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What’s for Lunch?

May 28 2021

For the past couple of weeks, the topic of school lunch has been percolating on the e-lists, simmering in school and university admin meetings, and has come to a full boil for many summer camps and programs. At our weekly Monday gathering, we devoted time to discussing, “What the lunch are we going to do???”

Breakfast is usually touted as the most important meal of the day, but many experts would argue that lunch at school is the key to student achievement and success at any age. Here are three things to consider about the importance of school lunch:

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Are you Future-Ready?

June 11 2021

As the academic year winds down, we are all breathing a sigh of relief that 2020-2021 is behind us. End of year activities, proms, commencement ceremonies, despite being modified in some way, happened this year in a way that feels celebratory and hopeful. Many of our member schools and universities will resume some in-person activities this summer, and just yesterday, at our offices, PAISBOA Board Chair Carolyn Hapeman presented the Batley Award to Tom Taft from Germantown Academy, the Service to the Flock Award to Tom Devine, formerly of Merion Mercy Academy, and a service award to Justin Wheeler of Delaware Valley Friends School — in-person, outside in the garden, and maskless. It was the first time any of us have seen each other in-person more than a year, and while it felt a little awkward it was really exciting!

The PAISBOA Board of Directors will meet on June 30 for their annual summer retreat (in-person) to determine what’s next for PAISBOA in the post-pandemic world. As we prepare for discussions on governance, DEI&J, group purchasing, and the membership experience, we are identifying some themes that are prevalent in every aspect of our work: promoting resilient leadership, developing skills for the next normal, supporting physical and mental health, acting with intention to make DEI&J a reality, and becoming future-ready.

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Spring Resources

April 30 2021

This week the PAISBOA staff is in the countdown for the PAISBOA Annual Meeting, Fostering The Resilient Business Office Team, scheduled for Wednesday, March 5 at 9:00 am. Board Chair Carolyn Hapeman will be presiding over this event as we will hold our annual business meeting, network with our vendor partners and sponsors, announce this year’s recipient of the John Batley Award, and present a new honor, the Service to the Flock Award, to a steadfast business officer.

As we gather virtually again this year, we are so appreciative of our PAISBOA Preferred Vendors and our Corporate Sponsors who will be participating in our virtual vendor fair from 8:00 am–5:00 pm the day of the meeting. We will also hear from our generous Signature Sponsors, Armstrong, Doyle, and Carroll (ADC), and our newest PAISBOA Preferred VendorCampus Services Group during the meeting. We can’t wait to see all of you on Wednesday at 9:00 am!  Please Register HERE!

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Building Capability

April 2, 2021

While many of you have been on spring break, we have been catching our breath and planning for the PAISBOA Annual Meeting on May 5. We are also thinking about how to prepare for the next chapter of this pandemic story.  From all that we’ve been reading, speed and resilience are organizational leadership qualities that are here to stay. This idea of Capitalizing on Capabilities is a strategy that will help organizations find their way to improved performance and transformation. “These capabilities — the collective skills, abilities, and expertise of an organization — are the outcome of investments in staffing, training, compensation, communication, and other human resources areas. They represent the ways that people and resources are brought together to accomplish work. They form the identity and personality of the organization by defining what it is good at doing and, in the end, what it is.”

Here are 11 capabilities that your school or university should consider as you strategize for what’s next: Talent, Speed, Shared Mindset and Coherent Brand Identity, Accountability, Collaboration, Learning, Leadership, Customer Connectivity, Strategic Unity, Innovation, and Efficiency. People rather than things will be the focus as we work our way out of the pandemic.

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A Hint of Spring

March 19, 2021

The snowpile in my driveway that was over my head is now less than a foot high. We survived the changing of the clocks for daylight savings earlier this week, and this weekend marks the beginning of spring and Big Bird’s Birthday. I know all of you are as anxious as I am to put winter behind us. Many of you are heading off to spring break in the next few weeks, some of you have received your vaccine, and with the warmer, sunnier weather comes optimism and renewal.

Like you, the CFO’s surveyed In Deloitte’s CFO Signals for Q1 2021 are expressing improving metrics and overall optimism:

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The Future of Professional Development

March 5, 2021

For many of you, professional development (PD) over the last year has consisted of trying to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can about PPP loans, PPE, indoor air quality, public health strategy, viral loads, vaccines, social distancing — I could go on, but you get the drift. As we think about life with a vaccinated populace and herd immunity, it may be time to turn your attention to resuming your professional development.

Besides improving your professional practice and growing your personal and professional network, professional development programs and conferences are a great way to take a break from everyday schedules and focus on learning and improvement. One thing we know for sure -- you will engage in professional development very differently in the future.

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Convergence

February 19, 2021

I experienced a convergence of three seemingly unrelated pieces of information this week that enabled me to understand leadership by using a new lens. It is imperative for all of us to take a breath, periodically, and make sure our decisions are aligned with the mission of the organization and our behavior is aligned with the core values.

Like most school leaders, you have been operating in a head down, in the weeds, mindset for almost a year now. My first experience was when The Toughest Leadership Test landed in my inbox and suggested that for CEOs -- and, I would argue, for CFOs -- COVID has been the ultimate leadership test. I was very much intrigued. The article describes “micro-habits” (daily routines and ways of working) that help them and their companies cope personally and professionally. The article describes how some leaders are energized by the challenges, some are taking a step back to reimagine their company and industry, while others are exhausted and craving some downtime.

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Asking the Right Questions for Results

February 5, 2020

This morning, I spent about an hour with a business officer who was wrestling with some really tough decisions related to the trifecta: enrollment, budget, and personnel. Like many of you are finding, creating a budget for the 2021-2022 academic year is not for the faint of heart. These phone calls have been more the norm since March of last year.

Whenever I am in situations like this, I ask a lot of questions. I find that asking good questions is the best way to get to the heart of the matter and tease out what is really going on and why something is happening at a given moment. When my kids were teenagers, they called me Mrs. 20 Questions because that was my way of coaxing them into talking about what was important to them. They would say, “Mom, that was only 3 questions, you have 17 more!” As if that was going to deter me!

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Trends to Watch in 2021

January 8, 2021

Happy New Year!!! Like many of you, I am relieved to say goodbye to 2020 — I have had my fill of all things COVID and am ready to move on to other endeavors! While I am realistic enough to know that we have a long way to go to get the number of COVID cases under control, the new therapeutics and vaccines are exciting prospects. I am feeling hopeful about the new year, so Happy 2021!!!

As you know, I am not one for resolutions, and embrace change as needed rather than waiting for the new year. I much prefer greeting the new year by studying the trends expected for the upcoming year as I begin to plan and set goals for myself and for PAISBOA. Here are some of the things I am thinking about.

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Finishing Strong!

December 18, 2020

By the time you read this, most of your school and university community will have left campus or signed off zoom for the day—you made it!!! It is time to celebrate the end of 2020. You finished 2020 just like you started – strong! You planned, pivoted in March, then planned some more in the spring, pivoted again in September, and managed in-person, hybrid, and remote work and learning like the professionals you are!

Like all of you, PAISBOA planned and pivoted more than a few times right along with you, and like you, we started the year strong with many opportunities for our members to gather in person for networking and professional development. By mid-March, we were all working from home and reimagining how our members could network and participate in the professional development they needed to guide their communities into the “new normal.” In addition to meeting the COVID Crisis head on with the Resource Page, we modified our Signature Events to deliver all of the experiences and services you expect from PAISBOA and more.

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Keep Your Seatbelts Buckled as You Prepare for 2021!

December 4, 2020

Last evening I attended the second webinar of the series Buckle Your Seatbelts! Navigating the Path to 2021-22 conceived by SAIS, who graciously invited PAISBOA and other independent school associations to partner with them in bringing the program to our members.

Part 1 provided crucial external insight in two key areas:

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#Grateful

November 20, 2020

Nothing about this year has been easy, so why should we think the holiday season should be any different? As we prepare for a Thanksgiving that will be remarkably different from past years, I couldn’t help but think of my Dad. My Dad was always a very practical guy, who worked hard, approached life from a glass half-full perspective, and who never took anything for granted. He told me on more than one occasion that I could have it all, just not at the same time, and to count my blessings.

When I saw this quote, I immediately thought of him: “This is not the year to get everything you want. This is the year to appreciate everything you have.” So Dad, here goes…

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Budget Toolkit

November 6, 2020 

In chatting with many of you over the past couple of weeks, you are deep into your budgeting process for the next academic year. I heard from you that the modeling or scenario building process has been even more challenging than usual, and there is increased pressure to present a balanced budget in these most uncertain times. Where is that crystal ball when you need it?

An article in the Harvard Business Review, suggests, An Agile Approach to Budgeting for Uncertain Times may be the answer. “Rather than tedious templates, endless financial forecasts, haggling over targets, and battling for resources you may have the opportunity for a clean break.” Here are some suggestions:

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Minding Your Business

October 23, 2020

Since January 2020, PAISBOA (Board, Business Insurance Group Steering Committee, and Staff) has been immersed in Business Insurance — and we have learned a lot! Collectively, we probably know more than we ever wanted or needed to know before, but not nearly enough to become experts by any means. It has been a fascinating process and so important for our members, considering the millions of dollars in assets protected by these policies. We are so grateful for the support and expertise of our insurance partner, Bolton and Company.

For many schools and universities, as we head into November, the budget process for the 2021-2022 academic year looms large. Tuition, salaries and benefits, and financial aid are the big ticket items. Another fairly large budget item is business insurance, and it is never too soon to start educating yourself about the current and future insurance markets. We have heard from some of our members who had renewal dates in July 2020 that they were unprepared for the unprecedented increase in rates they received.

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How Can PAISBOA Support Schools Now?

October 10, 2020

Since March, life as we know it has changed dramatically, and independent school and university business officers and their teams have been working ‘round the clock. First to pivot to off-campus learning and work, then to pivot to a hybrid situation of some constituents on and off campus for learning and work, and this month to pivot back to full-time on campus learning and work — it has been a herculean effort for all involved. As one of our business officer colleague shared, “50 days until Thanksgiving, but who’s counting?!”

Every step of the way, PAISBOA has worked side-by-side with members to give you safe spaces to meet and share challenges and successes, like our Monday Morning Coffee Breaks; we post the most up-to-date information on COVID and related topics on the PAISBOA COVID Resources site; and we’ve given you access to professionals and corporate partners who’ve provided financial modeling tools, professional advice and counsel, and even some self-care recommendations to stay strong for our communities.

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Today is September 11th

September 11, 2020

Today is September 11th, and for 39 years, it was simply my brother and sister’s birthday. In 2001, everything changed. Being New Yorkers, we are notoriously tough, and our family was more fortunate than most as my brother arrived home after walking most of the way home from New York City to his home in the suburbs--a little dusty, a little shaken, but happy to be alive. Needless to say, the 40th birthday celebration for the twins was way more subdued than planned, like everything else that evening. The grief was real — we grieved for those who didn’t make it home, we grieved for those who were injured, we grieved for the loss of innocence.

Today is September 11th, and today we grieve for a lost spring and a summer co-opted by COVID 19. An Education Week Survey warns of declines in student enrollment, increased teacher resignations, and growing concerns about academic progress in students. Much of this can be attributed to unresolved grief. According to McKinsey researchers, grief arises from the loss of one or more deep-seeded human needs — attachment, territory, structure, identity, future, meaning, or control. To overcome grief, individuals go through a three-stage process: become aware of the problem; accept the pain of the loss; and, let go of the past and make meaning from the experience. Organizations can help by setting the right tone of openness, recognizing grief when it happens, creating rituals which signal transformation and recovery. As the organization deals openly with grief, it can “transform grief into a creative force that turns loss into inspiration.”

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Let’s Do This — Back to School 2020

August 21, 2020

Today is likely the last Friday before many of us start getting ready to go back to school. To say the anxiety level is running high is an understatement. Back to school plans have been upended by new guidance so many times, most of you have stopped counting the versions. Many folks are concerned with how to adequately accommodate students and adults both on campus and remotely. Those who have school age children are trying to figure out how they can be in two places at once — working and educating their children in a virtual learning environment. Onboarding new members of the community (students, parents, faculty, staff) is more challenging, and let’s not even get started on sports, lunch, and recess. Suffice it to say, Back to School 2020 is going to be messy, and nobody likes messy!

One way to deal with the mess is to manage stress. William J Koehler Ph.D., LCSW in Ready or Not, Here We Go Back to School, shares that faculty, parents, and students all have concerns about returning to in-person learning in the midst of the COVID pandemic. He offers five suggestions to “navigate through these continuously shifting circumstances, overwhelming feelings, and contradicting demands.”

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Churchill, Emotion, and Optimism

August 7, 2020

Like many of you, I am an avid reader and usually have a couple of books going at the same time as well as a pile of articles and magazines. I started reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson over Memorial Day weekend and just finished. Usually, I zip through books, but with this one, I was compelled to do some outside reading to supplement my knowledge of both the man and the times. I highly recommend it not only because it is an excellent story, but it is a lesson for our time.

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Caring – Concern – Trust

June 12, 2020

I had my six-month checkup at the dentist yesterday, and found it to be an oddly comforting experience. Scheduled at the time of my last appointment, pre-COVID-19, I wondered whether I would have to reschedule, but I received a text asking if I would like to confirm, and if so, to expect further instructions about new office protocols. In reviewing the new protocols, my dentist explained the changes that went on behind the scenes to the HVAC system and other systems within the office. He explained what social distancing would look like in the office, and how both the staff and I had some responsibilities in keeping my appointment a safe experience for all of us. Directions were emailed to me on how I was to prepare for the appointment, I was asked to text them when I arrived in the parking lot, and when I was invited in, wearing my mask, it was clear where I was to wait for further instructions. I sanitized my hands, the staff member asked a number of questions about my health, they took my temperature, and measured my oxygen saturation with a fingertip pulse oximeter. I was cleared, and the rest of my appointment proceeded just like every other appointment I have had with them with a thorough teeth cleaning and examination. I was out the door in an hour with another appointment scheduled for December.

You might be thinking TMI, but I share this with you because it illustrates the importance of trust and communication in times of uncertainty. Your schools and universities have built trusting relationships with your students, families, and constituents, delivering a high quality educational experience for many years. You have also built trust through your communications by staying on point, communicating more frequently, and being straightforward, kind, and powerful in your response. You will continue to build trust, with some tweaks, in response to COVID-19 and with some cooperation from your entire learning community.

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We Are PAISBOA!

June 26, 2020

We gathered this past Wednesday for the 2020 PAISBOA Annual Meeting. In his welcoming remarks, Mark Gibbons, Chair of PAISBOA Board of Directors, was clear, “We are you and you are us!” From its inception, PAISBOA works because it was founded by Business Officers, for Business Officers. As we continued with the required annual business meeting for PAISBOA and the PAISBOA Services Corporation; we approved the nominations for the Board of Directors; elected officers; said goodbye to some long-serving directors; honored three retirees who will be greatly missed by their schools and their colleagues; and lastly, we presented the John Batley Award to a most deserving Business Officer. It was just like any other PAISBOA Annual Meeting … except it wasn’t. As one Business Officer commented, “I’ve had been to an annual meeting on a boat, in a helicopter, and in a centrifuge, but this virtual format was a first!” Like all of its members, PAISBOA adapts to meet the challenges brought on by an uncertain future.

Which is why whenever we gather, we have a responsibility to reflect on why we do what we do. PAISBOA’s mission is to stimulate and sustain a passion for providing services and opportunities to empower Business Officers to excel. Our value proposition is to create savings in both time and money while providing useful resources and expanded knowledge to our members. This year more than ever, the Expanding Scope of the Business Office has been acknowledged and buttressed with a wide array of products, toolkits, training, education, networking, and safe spaces for conversations. Like its members, PAISBOA is focused on what lies ahead and moving toward innovation, rather than staying in crisis mode.

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