The Value of Trust and Collaboration

One of the features of my new book, Healthy Boards — Successful Schools is the use of case stories to illustrate a particular issue or challenge an independent or faith-based school might be facing. Below is an excerpt from the first case story in the book. Titled, What Does the Finance Committee Understand About School Finance or Financial Assistance?, the story involves a challenge that many school heads and board members face: What is a trustee’s role when it comes to issues such as the level of financial assistance to provide our students. Like many issues, it’s not as black and white as some trustees would like to believe. Rather than relying on secondhand information or what another school might be doing, it’s best to listen and learn the policies, procedures, and history on such issues from your school. In this way, the trustee can share and contribute to the discussion much more effectively than would otherwise be possible.

Another point that I am trying to convey both in this story and throughout the book is the absolute importance of trust, collaboration, and communication. In this story, trustees were receiving information that did not accurately reflect the circumstances of the school but rather what was happening at another school with very different priorities. The relationship with the business manager was poor and not based on a collaboration and trust. This resulted in a genuine mess.

Please read the excerpt below to begin to gain awareness of what is happening and what is at stake here.


CASE STORY #1

 

What Does the Finance Committee Understand About School Finance or Financial Assistance?

Many independent and faith-based schools provide tuition or financial assistance to families that qualify for that type of support. Typically, a third-party organization reviews family financial information and makes a determination and recommendation on the amount the family can pay based on the information provided. Schools, in turn, based on their policy or other factors, such as an amount set aside in their budget, will award families financial assistance. In addition, there is a growing trend among schools to communicate or market this in such a way that it is described as variable tuition—tuition based on a family’s ability to pay. It is not uncommon for schools to utilize assistance as an enrollment management strategy and a recognition of what an economically diverse population can bring to the school.

For many independent schools, depending on the state in which they are located, there is another factor that must be considered. For these schools that provide high school (varsity) athletics there is the issue of…