by Henry Contant, SCSBC Executive Director ◊
Who would be on your ideal Christian school leadership team? Regardless of your school size, how is such a team created if it doesn’t yet exist in your school?
Envision a Christian school with …
- a crystal clear understanding of why it exists, who it serves and the direction it is going
- a board that provides sound governance leadership, having developed an inspiring and realistic strategic plan that is in alignment with the school’s mission and has the full support of the school society
- a principal and/or superintendent who offers relevant and insightful spiritual, educational and administrative leadership
- a business administrator who serves the board and principal/superintendent by practicing sound biblical stewardship, prudent financial management and wise financial forecasting
When a board chair, a principal/superintendent, and a business administrator each understand their unique roles and know how to work together effectively, a dynamic leadership team can emerge. This leadership trio will be able to guide the school into making wise decisions that can make a difference for future generations. Conversely, “If your senior leadership is not working as a team, it’s not really working,” 1 states Patrick Lencioni, executive coach and acclaimed author of the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Do your board chair, principal/superintendent and business administrator schedule times to meet, pray, dream and plan about the school’s future? The value of these three key leaders meeting regularly is that it brings together those ultimately responsible for the school’s governance, the spiritual, educational and administrative leadership, and financial management of the school’s resources. Each of these leaders have a unique role and responsibility, and they need to be able to support each other, advise each other, build accountability structures, and together lead the school community into the future.
The biblical value of teams over individual efforts is described in resonant and simple terms in Ecclesiastes 4:12. “A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT) It is especially interesting that the author of the passage, King Solomon, someone who held a supreme hierarchical position, nonetheless saw the value of teams. Even from his lofty throne he chose to include these insights about the triple-braided cord in his volume of wisdom.
Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – Eccl. 4:9-12, NLT
Solomon cites several specific benefits of the three-fold team over individual efforts including:
- Greater productivity – “[they] accomplish more than twice as much as one”
- Greater results – “get a better return for their labour”
- Greater security – “if . . . one falls, the other can . . . help” and “two can stand back-to-back and conquer”
- Greater benefit – the addition of another team member “three are even better than two”.
One valuable yet often underutilized key tool that the triple-braided leadership of board chair, principal/superintendent and business manager ought to be using more effectively is the school’s Annual Administrative and Financial Calendar. Imagine how fruitful the school’s long-term decision making process would be if the following issues were discussed by this leadership trio in a timely manner. Imagine six meetings a year with the following germane discussion points:
August – September
Update and analyze student enrolment information (retention and recruitment)
Finalize term contract staffing commitments
Assess and revise the operational school budget to current realities
Review summer capital projects. Were they completed on time and on budget?
October – November
- Prepare reports the fall annual general meeting
- Check class size configurations. Are any classes too large, too small, or enroling too many special needs, ELL, or learning assistance students?
- Analyze cash flow to ensure adequate funds to meet ongoing financial commitments
- Review government block grant revenues and supplementary special education funding revenues
- Appraise preparation for special education funding audits
- Review annual fundraising /development office objectives
- Evaluate the launch of the annual giving campaign and leadership role of the school board and administrative team
December – January
- Review year-end charitable giving
- Issue charitable tax receipts and express appreciation to all donors
- Establish preliminary operational budget parameters for the next school year
- Study the SCSBC Compensation Report recommendations and other HR issues
- Finalize the school’s marketing plan for the upcoming school year
- Consider the staffing intentions forms, early retirements and transitions to part-time
February – March
- Re-registration and new enrolments
- New job postings and staff hiring plans
- Review the staff reduction and recall policy
- Consider school board nominations for new members and committee appointments received from the board nominating committee
- Finalize budgeting process
April – May
- Prepare for the spring society meeting and adoption
- of the new operational budget
- Take stock of staff summer professional development activities
- Assess applications for tuition assistance
- Review fundraising goals to date
June – July
- Examine parent exit interview data
- Manage all summer capital projects
- Review building and grounds issues, including the need
- for portables or renovations
The examination and discussion of the above items is a key function in keeping your school’s educational, administrative and financial systems secure and sustainable for future generations. Bi-monthly meetings with the board chair, principal and business administrator will enable the school to be proactive in its leadership. Doing so will eliminate most financial surprises, reduce knee-jerk decision-making, and allow the school community to make wise long-term decisions that will make a difference for the next generation of Christian School supporters.
A triple -braided cord … not easily broken.
1 Robert C. Crosby, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press; 2012).