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Posted on Sep 1, 2011

The Financial Landscape of Our Schools in 2020

The Financial Landscape of Our Schools in 2020

by John Vegt, SCSBC Director  of Finance

School administrators and boards know from experience that a financial norm of the past may not be the norm for the future. What happened previously may not recur in the years ahead. Given this new reality, how should Christian school leaders plan financially for the future? Increasingly, school leadership is called upon to understand the times and know how to respond.

Amid the many changes some things do not change. God’s faithfulness, His grace, and the promises of scripture remain the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. With continued prayerful reliance on God, school leaders can move forward in confidence.

Factors for Christian School Leaders to Consider as They Develop Financial Strategies and Policies for the Future
  • current and future demographics point to changing family structures and family size
  • new Canadian Christian immigrants bring new children, new languages, and new perspectives to our schools
  • we are affected by a global economy that is increasingly volatile and could bring us inflation or stagnation
  • younger parents are placing more priority on their family’s quality of life than on their own careers
  • many Christians and seekers do not fully understand what affordable Christian education can offer
  • our Christian community has an obligation to spread the news about Christian day schools as an essential part of being disciples for Christ in society
  • parents increasingly demand excellence in Christian education – excellence in the delivery of a Christian perspective in all courses and programs; excellence when it comes to school facilities, infrastructure, and use of current technological tools; excellence in authentic learning opportunities and learning processes required for students to become leaders and disciples

In the past, school leaders planned for the future by charting a course of action and establishing a budget that paid for it. Today’s parents are inclined to vote with their feet and go elsewhere if they feel the school has compromised on its commitment to excellence in education and discipleship.

Best Practices Leaders Ought to Discuss as They Plan For the Financial Future of Their Christian School
  • set aside funds for a communication/recruitment strategy to attract Christians in your community to your school
  • analyze the infrastructure needed for your school in the future
  • work on efficient staffing levels so that a living wage can be paid to all full-time staff members (1850+ hours/year)
  • articulate the value of a Christian education in non-monetary terms so that the payment of tuition fees is secondary
  • search out non-traditional sources of funding through planned giving programs, wills, estates and foundations
  • develop detailed plans and budget for staff to develop professionally in their field and as Christian teachers
  • work together with nearby schools to offer specialized and
  • online courses which may not be affordable to any one school
  • examine potential community uses for your school after regular school hours
  • provide funds for learning outside the classroom through cooperative programs, field trips, job shadowing and exchange programs
  • explain the net cost of education to parents by taking into consideration the government funding and the charitable tax receipts received by parents
  • work collectively with other schools in sharing equity in net assets to finance schools with insufficient equity in net assets
  • consider teaching and administrative staff exchanges between schools for professional development and growth
  • seek out and learn from the best practices of other schools that have strong financial metrics and also demonstrate excellence in Christian education
  • consider establishing task forces to deal with in-depth issues relating to financing, marketing, operations, infrastructure and staffing efficiencies
  • search out new technological tools to assist the learning process for students and staff members
  • use parents to showcase professional skills in different trades and professions
  • support the Federation of Independent School Associations in BC (FISA-BC) in seeking out additional grants and loans currently available to public schools and
  • not to independent schools
  • spend time during the budgeting and strategic planning process to think and dream about the future

As schools draft strategic plans, they are encouraged to think about future revenues and expenses that may not be fully evident today. Concurrently, they must fund those programs, staff and facilities that will improve schools of the future. This will require input from all stakeholders. As schools go through their strategic planning processes it is imperative to cost out all new programs and find a way to fund them.

Above all, our schools should be committed to excellence in everything they do. Successful schools are those that have planned for new programs and imaginative learning opportunities and have communicated the value of a Christian education. Involvement of professional teaching staff, including recent graduates, is crucial in bringing the future of education to the budgeting and strategic planning process. Ask them, they will help you envision a better school for future generations

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