A day school is not an easy enterprise to run because, for one thing, it is dependent on the local economy and demographics. The closing of a major employer or the departure of young families from the area can challenge the existence of even the best-run private day school. In addition to those local conditions a boarding or residential school is also subject to national and global economic trends. Many American boarding schools have 10-20% of their students drawn from outside the United States. An economic downturn or civil strife can choke off the number of applicants coming from abroad. A weak national economy here at home can make it more difficult for parents to afford a boarding school education for their children. With these considerations in mind let's look at five challenges facing American boarding schools and some common sense solutions to those challenges.
1. The natural resistance to sending children to a residential school.
It is hard enough for most American parents to send their children away to college, much less boarding school. The idea of sending a fifteen-year old away to a residential high school meets with serious resistance from most parents. There are many reasons for this reluctance, but the primary ones are the high cost of boarding school and the feeling that the local public high school or private schools can do just as good a job of preparing their children for college. There's also a nagging concern that perhaps their son or daughter is not
By now, after two decades into the 21st century, it is obvious even to the most jaded, cynical people out there that we have to rethink how we live and function on this planet which we call Earth. We are discovering that Earth's resources are finite. We are finally realizing that we must conserve energy. We are rethinking the cost of goods and services regarding their carbon footprint. Sustainability is no longer a theory. It is a concept which is being put into daily practice.
That's why it is very encouraging to see so many private schools making progress towards developing sustainable schools. For schools, sustainability involves not just the wise use of energy and foodstuffs, but it also the prudent management of a school's fiscal resources and more. The National Association of Independent Schools has published an excellent white paper entitled Sustainability: Creating 21st Century Sustainable Schools. Let's look at the five areas of sustainability which this document puts forth. The NAIS calls these 'dimensions' which is an apt description. 'Area' implies a confined space. 'Dimension' speaks to the vastness of the challenge and the scope of the solution.
Simply put, financial sustainability is all about drawing a line and setting responsible limits. It doesn't matter whether you have $100,000 in the bank or $900 million in your savings account. Schools need to use all the expertise and tools available to them to control expenses and maximize the use of every dollar of income available to them. This