Thursday, February 28, 2013

Head's Report January 2013

At each board meeting, I present a report. I am sharing most of my January Head's report in this blog. I think it contains important school news and information.

I.                 Enrollment Report and Admission Outlook.

Current enrollment is 497 students as compared to 508 on the same date last year and 485 on the same date 2011. Our inquiries to date for 2012-2013 are 135, seven ahead of the same period last year. Greg Rainey, Head of Upper and Middle Schools, has completed a preliminary assessment of attrition for next year. He believes it will much lower than last year and return to something nearer the historic average (12%). It is still very early, but so far our inquiries are strong. Last year was one of the best enrollment years ever at Gaston Day—so if our inquiries stay the same or better than last year, and attrition returns to the lower numbers we have seen historically, we should have a strong enrollment year.
II.              Academics
We are having excellent years in all three academic divisions. Marianna Davis, Jennifer Newcombe, and Greg Rainey are providing strong leadership. I am particularly pleased with Mr. Rainey’s vision for Middle and Upper Schools, which includes hand-held technology for every student in two years, more Asian international students, and a stronger branding program for Gaston Day.

Because Pre-School enrollment was down this year, Mrs. Davis has initiated a discussion of pricing strategies, current financial aid policy, and length-of-day options with David Fleenor, Martha Jayne Rhyne and me.

I continue to explore opportunities for cooperation with Spartanburg Day School and its new Head of School Rachel Deems.
III.            Campus Security

We held a security forum on January 17, 2013, open to the entire Gaston Day community. There were twenty-one families in attendance and, when combined, about the same number of trustees, administrators, and faculty. I described our campus presently as open and under surveillance by Officer Jack Brown. I also reported that I had met first with Capt. Steve Jentsch, Gaston County Police, and then Capt. Bill Melton, Gaston County Police (Special Responsibilities for School Safety) to discuss ways to make Gaston Day safer.

Board Chair Tim Efird then talked about the timeline and process for making improvements in school security.

For approximately 45-60 minutes, we then fielded question from the audience. These questions were civil and helpful. Opinions about increasing campus security and restricting the openness of campus were mixed, but the majority of those who spoke wanted more security. A few were adamant that changes must come quickly.

As of January 22, 2013, Gaston Day School has begun locking more of its exterior doors after 8:15 am to improve security and limit access. We also are ordering new name badges for teachers and staff as part of a comprehensive effort to identify campus visitors and have them all check in at the front desk when they arrive on campus.

I will continue to work with the County Police and City Police over the next month to develop a set of recommendation for the Executive Committee. Because these recommendations may change the character of the school, I feel that any decision must involve the Executive Committee.
IV.           ISM Consultation

Independent School Management (ISM) is gathering data from the school and surveying relevant school administrators and board members in preparation for their campus visit, February 9-11, and as part of the new Strategic Plan.

V.              Annual Fund

The annual fund is $20,000 ahead of where it was at the same time last year. Director of Development Liz Minor believes that this is a result of increased giving, not early giving.

VI.            Food Service Sales

Flik continues to provide good food and sales remain stable. We anticipate that we will have to pay the whole $24,000 management fee, which is the maximum loss we are bound to contractually. 

IX.           Technology

Gaston Day faces several technology challenges, which all can be met successfully. First, 64 of our personal computers are XP’s and need to be replaced. I recommend that we add $100 technology fee to the general fee. These funds will be used to replace outdated hardware with newer equipment.

Second, as I said in my last report, Gaston Day School must embrace “21st Century Education,” a buzzword for bring technology into the classroom and using it to make teaching relevant to our students. The classroom must reflect the new reality in technology.

XI.            Insurance Renewal
            Blue Cross and Blue Shield has offered Gaston Day a renewal of our major medical insurancecoverage with no increase in cost. Part of the reason for the favorable rate is the success of our wellness program. We are healthier. After salaries and payroll taxes, insurance is our third largest expense. This is fantastic news.