Thoughts from a Boarding School Business Office

Boarding school business and financial officers work in the shadows of their academic counterparts.

Often their offices are remotely located away from a school’s academic, athletic, and residential life offices reinforcing an implied separateness between the school’s educational mission and monetary realities.

With the past couple of years pushing boarding school dollars & sense into the open, we’ve begun to hear and see more of school financial officers and the difficult work and planing they do. A few have started sharing their perspectives shedding some light on the financial foundations of what it takes to make a school operate.

In this vein, Janet Peddy, Director of Finance, Planning and Operations at The Webb Schools (Claremont, CA) has written and interesting post for the Webblogs titled “Homecoming.”

“…My colleagues worry aloud about parents affording the independent school experience, about providing faculty and staff with fair wages and good benefits. We talk about controlling the uncontrollable in an economy where prices are increasing for things like food, health benefits, insurance, utilities and supplies. We wish for more funding to invest in aging physical plants. In somber voices, some share stories about sacrificing heretofore programmatic sacred cows in the name of financial sustainability. All have felt impacts of a changed economic environment, yet there is unevenness. Some schools are experiencing record enrollments, and everyone knows of at least one school that has closed their doors. We commiserate about how our schools are struggling under waves of new regulation. And while seeing to the day-to-day operations of our schools, we agree that we must keeping a wary eye on the horizon looking for signs of proverbial bad weather that is likely in an economic environment of ongoing uncertainty and volatility….” (Homecoming)

Peddy finds herself musing about Webb and boarding school finances as she returns from a “two day meeting of CFOs who serve on the board of the National Business Officer Association.”

She makes the case for sound and responsible planning- appreciating the support of the Webb community. Peddy provides insight into the thinking, planning, concerns and complexity of what it takes to keep a boarding school financially healthy.

No magic. Hard work, planning, and sometimes difficult choices.

Photo credit: Wumbus

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