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March Madness: Surviving and Advancing to April

By Jeffrey Shields posted 03-26-2019 09:34 AM

  

CEO Notebook |

Between the whirlwind activities of March and May, take some time to think strategically in April. 

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Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

For this issue of CEO Notebook, I’ve asked James Palmieri, NBOA’s senior vice president, to share some of his thoughts on the challenges — and opportunities — that this time of the school year promises for us all. April can be a time to recharge our batteries before bringing the current school year to a strong close as well as preparing for next year and all that lies ahead for our schools. James brings an interesting perspective as he nears one year on the NBOA staff and reflects on his 13 years as an independent school leader at two different girls' schools in New Jersey.

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Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.

Article by James R. Palmieri, Ed.D.

One year ago, prior to joining the NBOA staff, I sat in your seat as the cyclical demands of March urgently asserted themselves on the independent school calendar. While many school community members associate March with spring break and some warranted rest and rejuvenation, the business office is bound to be addressing a myriad of important tasks for both the current and following school year. The list of priorities never seems to end: 

james palmieri
James Palmieri, Ed.D.
NBOA Senior Vice President

Enrollment: You ensure current year accounts are closed out and the incoming class of newly accepted students is largely contracted with deposits. You prepare, distribute, collect and process re-enrollment contracts and financial aid agreements, with hopes of minimal attrition and tuition discounting under or in line with 2019-20 budget limitations. 

Staffing: You ensure appropriate, effective performance management is in process for all current employees, and that returning faculty return re-employment agreements that will secure the bulk of next year's instructional force. Additionally, new faculty recruitment is underway.

Facilities: You oversee the preparation of campus grounds not only to accommodate spring sports, but also to impress the many guests that will visit campus during the remaining months of school. In addition, you prepare a summer work-list to maximize preventative maintenance between June and August.

Traditions: The spring fundraising gala approaches. Prom is nearing. Graduation is within sight. Summer programming is around the corner.

Further complicating matters is that “March Madness” – the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments – is in full swing, and in my opinion, a must-watch. The bluebloods and the underdogs, the upsets and the Cinderella stories capture our imagination as the hard-working teams of dedicated student-athletes seek to survive from the rounds of 64 and 32 during opening weekend all the way through the Final Four and national championship in April.

Somehow, you get the work done.

Fortunately, when independent school business office teams survive and advance past the operational demands of March, April provides a window of opportunity to both regroup and look forward more strategically. In part to encourage this shift in leadership, behavior and priorities, NBOA works with our friends at One Schoolhouse to offer a spring lineup of online courses. This form of professional development provides you and your colleagues with the flexibility to learn asynchronously while at the office or home, at your own pace and on your own schedule. All spring online courses begin April 1.

Courses with a focus on human resources, scheduled in alignment with your hiring season:

  • Culture Meets Compliance (April 1-19) - new this spring
    Take a guided tour through a self-assessment of your school's HR practices and policies. Topics covered include: hiring and recruitment, OSHA safety and security, I-9 compliance, document retention and destruction, wage payment practices and policies, exempt/non-exempt classifications, disabilities and reasonable accommodation, family and medical leave, and employee handbooks.
  • Human Resources Compliance for Independent Schools (April 1-26)
    Gain knowledge and tools to address day-to-day human resources challenges such as evaluation and termination, FMLA, the ADA and employee classification. Learn how to improve your human resources policies and practices, and to know when to engage legal counsel.

Courses with a focus on finance and accounting:

  • Measuring Financial Health with the Composite Financial Index (April 1-19) - new this spring
    Learn how to use the Composite Financial Index (CFI) to communicate a concise picture of your school's financial health, and to think strategically about its financial strengths and weaknesses. The CFI, a standardized scoring metric employed by higher education institutions for decades, was recently brought to independent schools by NBOA and NAIS.
  • Essentials of the Business Office (April 1-26)
    Whether you are new to independent schools or a more experienced business administrator seeking new insights, you’ll learn about the ever-changing role of the business officer, from day-to-day responsibilities to strategic leadership. Topics covered include finance, accounting and tax compliance, enrollment and donor management, human resources, risk management and facilities.
  • Stewarding Donor Dollars: Financial Reporting for Contributions (April 1-19)
    Learn best practices related to gift reporting compliance and donor transactions, as well as tips for enhancing the strategic partnership between the two offices to ensure long-term success. Topics covered include types of gifts, unrestricted and restricted gifts, redirecting donors, endowment best practices, wills and planned giving, shared information between the business and advancement/development offices, compliance with IRS and accounting regulations, and the business office role in donor stewardship.

As a former independent school leader, and now an association leader, I can assure you that NBOA understands and empathizes with you during these busy spring months. The work you do is essential, and you are all champions for your schools, but please don’t begin grabbing ladders and cutting down your school's basketball nets. Strive to make April more purposeful for you and your team before the dash to the finish line begins on May 1!

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