Good morning; Day 2.   Enjoying a bland breakfast with good company, and now the annual meeting has begun.   Agenda includes reports from the NAIS board, elections, and, the highlight, Pat Bassett’s President’s Report  and presentation: Brutal Fact, Inevitable Surprises, and Unshakable Beliefs.  (Summary after the jump).   Bassett:  “NAIS inquiries have dropped 20% in last seven years. More kids home schooled, more kids in charters, than in NAIS schools.”   And: “Can you think of any institution more resistant to change than independent schools? The church changes more!”  And: “Data point: Majority of parents in families of over $200K think public schools are higher quality than independent schools.”

Membership reports a growth in membership, but in the perfunctory nature of the reporting there is no discussion of the potential that there will be fewer member schools next year, due to the impact of the economic decline.  That would be an interesting dicussion. 

A strong slate of new NAIS trustees is presented, including two favorites of my locale, the SF East Bay, Paul Chapman and Katherine Dinh.  Congratulations to them. Val Iwashita is given a standing ovation upon the completion of his three year term as NAIS Board Chair.

Treasurer’s Report, Aggie Underwood: Strong revenues from high conference attendance results in good financials for NAIS, and a proud boast that only 33% of NAIS revenues comes from membership dues.  As always, there are reports of new technological initiatives at NAIS, especially on its expanded Finance section of the website.    “We made money, more than we spent, which will support our continued improvement of services.”  Aggie also is emphatic in her remarks, and Val takes note of how much he “always enjoys her reports.”

Val provides Pat a laudatory introduction– “truly remarkable.”  Pat introduces new “regional directors,” (the mod squad, he calls them).  A new concept from NAIS, and an effort to provide more visible presences in “your neighborhood.”  Not sure how this will work.  They are also to assist schools in better accessing and exploiting NAIS resources online.   Reps will come to schools and show us how to use NAIS resources.

New books from NAIS: Trustee’s Primer on the Strategic Process, The Middle School Handbook (2nd ed.), Penny-wise (paying for children’s education), and Philanthropy at Ind. Schools (3rd ed.) by Helen Colson;   School Leadership for the Future by Hoerr, Stories of Excellence: Case Studies of Exemplary Teaching and Learning with Tech., Affordability and Demand; Policies for Ind. Schools.   I want to get all these books, myself. 

Pat now speaks of the NEW SSS; they have disconnected from ETS and are running SSS themselves, and promise to make it more useful and more effective for Financial Aid purposes. 

Pat touts his new financial sustainability pages

Now Brutal Facts and Inevitable Surprises. 

1. Competition for students and teachers is increasing.  Better public schools, growing home schooling, more alternatives.  Right now there are more kids in charter schools, and more homeschooled, than in independent schools.    Data point: Inquiries in NAIS have dropped 20% over the past seven years. 

2. Public opinion is mixed about the value of independent schools.   Data point: Majority of parents in families of over $200K think public schools are higher quality than independent schools (!) OMG. 

3. NAIS schools becoming less efficient. 

4. We are becoming less and less affordable.  Tuition up 66% in last seven years, 30% beyond inflation. 

5.  Price Break arrived this year in some markets, suggesting tuition isn’t inelastic at all. 

6. Standard & Poor’s outlook for private schools is bearish. 

7. Parents are becoming even more consumer-oriented.   New digital tools empowering difficult parents even more. 

8. Resistant school cultures, high anxiety among faculty and staff, and underperfomance of boards make it difficult to innovate.  Nothing is more resistant to change than independent schools. 

Inevitable Surprises School Forecast

1. Trend is producing a critical mass of middle and upper-middle class Hispanic &Latino/a students.  Demography is Destiny.   How will we make our schools more welcoming and inclusive for Hispanics?  NAIS can tell you the zipcodes to find and recruit high income and influence leaders in the Hispanic community, and NAIS has customized market research for Hispanic families.  

2.  A predicted long boom economically is more probably a sharp bust for the US.   But we need to ask: are we ready for the recovery?   How will we come out of this, how will we emerge so strong as to be the market leader? 

3. The end of retirement is likely for future generations.   Boomers won’t actually fully retire.  Hire Boomer talent part-time.   NAIS ISERVE executive corps for schools.     NAIS partnership with to promote better practices for tutoring, and a better arrangement for teachers in our schools to offer tutoring for supplementary income.   “Could be a disaster,” Bassett says.  Like that he says that. 

4. Rising Faculty Salaries to hire the best and brightest.   Denver starting salary at $42.5K. 

5. High Stakes testing will fail, but NAIS will push new value-add testing like CWRA.   

6. Customized Learning in high tech is coming– and reference to Disrupting Class.   Recommendation to schools to launch a R&D team, led by technology leaders. 

7. New models of public and private schools coming on, like High Tech High.  Wingspan is a tool for collaboration.  (What is wingspan?) 

Unshakeable Beliefs: 

1. Because of our freedom, we are still well positioned.   Enrollment has held steady in each of the last 6 recessions at our schools. 

2. Our constituents value our school, and Annual Giving is up considerably as evidence. 

3.  Private schools is the discretionary spending second least likely to be given up in recession (after cable TV). 

Reinforce the Value Proposition! 

Pat rushes to the end, as we run out of time before the opening general session, coming at 9. Brief remarks from Marcia Spiller, new NAIS Board Chair.