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Is Normal Good Enough?

May 14 2021

My son is a big consumer of news, and one of his favorite outlets is Vox. He appreciates their “explanatory journalism” and unique perspectives. When I read this article earlier this week, We shouldn’t go back to “normal.” Normal wasn’t good enough, I knew I had to share it with of all of you. It describes some of the anxiety around doing things you haven’t practiced in a while like interacting with people “in-person,” and going back to a “normal” you would rather not return to.

There are so many considerations in play as we navigate what stays and what goes from our pre-pandemic lives. Schools and universities have changed almost everything about their operations since March 2020, and you have embraced change with aplomb. Vaccinations are more accessible, we just heard from the CDC that fully vaccinated individuals can go maskless outdoors, and we are reconsidering end of year activities with an eye toward how we will reopen in September. Hope is in the air!

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Celebrating Women in Leadership and Linda Phelps, Executive Director of PAIS

May 3, 2019

For women leaders, there is a Catch-22 situation based on societal norms. We are expected to be warm and nice as well as tough and competent having to negotiate a unique balancing act of being demanding yet caring, authoritative yet participative, advocating for ourselves while serving others, and maintaining a distance while being approachable.  It’s no wonder why we are all so tired!!! Being perfect is exhausting!!!

Despite gains in every profession, women remain underrepresented at all levels of leadership, according to research compiled by the AAUW for the Barriers and Bias report. In Congress, on corporate boards, in colleges and universities, in independent schools, and independent school associations, male leaders outnumber female leaders by considerable margins. There are many reasons for these leadership gaps, but stereotypes and bias are still the leading obstacles to women’s leadership.

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Codes of Ethics

August 25, 2017

In the next few weeks, PAISBOA will launch a new integrated website, self-service database, and communication system -- very exciting!!! Since January, Al Greenough, Ron Hill and I have combed through our own website for content, and we have visited hundreds of association websites looking for inspiration and interesting ways to communicate all the things you need to know about your PAISBOA membership. In that process, I noticed that many associations not only have mission statements, philosophy statements and vision statements, they have an explicit Code of Ethics, as well.

PAISBOA has always had an implied code of ethics - an "all for one, one for all "ethos, a mantra of "there is strength in numbers," and a rationale for operation in the lessons of the geese. A code of ethics is explicit in our Purchasing ConsortiumBusiness Insurance GroupHealth Benefit Trust and our Annual Data Survey

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Competition, Collaboration and Consortia Relationships

July 28, 2017

When I read a recent article by Donna Orem, President of NAIS, her examination of the tension between competition and collaboration, it resonated with me on a personal and professional level. As a quasi-competitive person, I feel that tension every day. At my professional core, I am always striving for the win-win, which explains why the mission of PAISBOA makes sense to me: Comprised primarily of 
a volunteer team of business officers working for the common good of all members, PAISBOA’s mission is to create savings in both time and money while providing useful resources and expanded knowledge.

 Before PAISBOA was a formal association, a group of Business Officers came together to help each other with the complexity of independent school operations and to help their schools save money through group purchasing. They were way ahead of their time! “Leaders and organizations are acknowledging that even their best individual efforts can’t stack up against today’s complex and interconnected problems. They are putting aside self-interests and collaborating to build a new civic infrastructure to advance their shared objectives.

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2017 NBOA Boot Camp

June 30, 2017

Tomorrow is my one-year anniversary with PAISBOA!!! I am so incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to work with all of you, and to represent PAISBOA in the larger independent school community. Last year, Hal Davidow, Chair of the Board of Directors of PAISBOA, recommended I attend the NBOA Business Officer Institute -- aka Business Officer Bootcamp -- and while I had some reservations, I forged ahead and spent last week with 65 new business officers at La Jolla Country Day School learning how to be an independent school business officer. Thank goodness I had a year under my belt with PAISBOA before I attended, because it validated some of the work that I did this year and it gave me a working vocabulary that was critical to my success at the Business Officers Institute.

Here are some of my takeaways from bootcamp:

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The 2017 PAISBOA Annual Data Survey

June 16, 2017

Last week, the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey subcommittee (Larry Capuzzi, Gail Crane, Tom Devine, Erin Donnelly, Jayme Karolyi) met with our colleagues from Measuring Success and Cal-ISBOA (California Independent School Business Officer Association) to review our survey questions for 2017 and prepare for the July 24 launch of this year's survey. The PAISBOA Annual Data Survey is a widely known and respected benchmarking tool created by business officers for business officers. For over 30 years, PAISBOA has been providing participating member schools with relevant, comprehensive data for administrators and boards to utilize, creating financial dashboards and other data reports that are imperative for the tough decisions our independent school administrators and boards face every day.

"How does our 403(b) match compare to other schools? Who can I call with a question about swimming pools? How do our faculty salaries compare to other schools? Which law firms should we consider for employment advice? These are just four of the hundreds of questions I can answer using the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey!"
Carolyn Hapeman, CFO, Westtown School

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The PAISBOA Top Ten

June 2, 2017

Now that we are into June, we are six months into our membership year calendar! Are you making the most of your PAISBOA membership and taking advantage of everything PAISBOA has to offer?

Here are 10 great reasons to get involved with PAISBOA today!

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In the News: CyberSecurity

May 19, 2017

As many of you know, "Ransomware, which is often transmitted by email or web pop-ups, involves locking up people's data and threatening to destroy it if a ransom is not paid. The [recent] global cyberattack has affected 200,000 Windows computers in more than 150 countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Britain," according to Brian Chen of the New York Times.

Like it or not, cybersecurity is increasingly a part of our lives as we continue to leverage technology for personal and professional use. Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of the tech department at our schools and universities -- everyone in the community has an important role to play!

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Retirement Planning Dinners Coming Up

May 5, 2017

"Money isn't the only necessity for a happy retirement," Emily Brandon explains in 9 Secrets of Retirement Happiness. I thought, "Well it sure doesn't hurt!"

Thanks to our colleagues at SCH Academy (May 10) and The Shipley School (May 11) for hosting the annual PAISBOA Retirement Planning Dinners co-sponsored by TIAA next week from 6:00-8:30 pm. These dinners will feature presentations that will assist those in our member schools who are considering retirement in the next few years. We will have representatives from TIAA, Social Security, and Medicare, and an attorney who will discuss wills and estates. These folks will be on hand to start the conversation and answer some general questions about how you can begin to financially prepare for your life's next chapter.

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2016 Annual Meeting Review

April 21, 2017

Yesterday's Annual Meeting at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, was a salute to teamwork. Hal Davidow, outgoing PAISBOA Board Chair, presided over the day with his usual wit and wisdom, and led us through an agenda which paid homage to our past, celebrated our present, and laid the groundwork for the future.

Our welcoming speaker, Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro, updated us about some personnel changes for the Eagles for the upcoming season and, like many of us, is eagerly anticipating the NFL Draft. He stressed the importance of culture in an NFL organization and how important it was for teams to recruit and retain the right players for their team and their city, which is certainly something we all should keep in mind as we look to recruit and retain our students. And our Keynote Speaker, Andrew Brandt, looked at sports from the legal and business perspectives, and shared his insights into some critical issues in professional sports.

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The Power of Introverts (and Extroverts)

March 24, 2017

Susan Cain, author of the New York Times Bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking and a self-proclaimed introvert, was featured in NBOA's Net Assets, and was a keynote speaker at the 2017 NBOA Annual Meeting in February. When she asked how many attendees considered themselves introverts, the overwhelming majority of hands went up. It was a bit daunting for the scant few extroverts in the audience!

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NBOA and NAIS Wrap-up

March 10, 2017

Last week, Al and I attended the annual meetings for NBOA (Washington DC) and NAIS (Baltimore MD) with over 50 members of PAISBOA. Both conferences featured excellent speakers (professional and novice) and provided occasions to interact with all types of exhibitors who support independent school education. As with any gathering of independent school leaders, the opportunity to network with like-minded educators was paramount -- connecting with new colleagues and reconnecting with old friends. In our role as association leaders, we were on the lookout for new ideas, engaging speakers, and potential vendor partners. We were successful in identifying all three!

The programming at NBOA was tracked into seven categories: accounting, finance and tax, business operations, facilities, human resources, information technology, leadership and governance and risk management. I attended some interesting programs on endowment management, investment policies as well as data trends, dashboarding, and data presentation, while Al attended a few programs related to governance, affordability and accessibility, and financial reporting.

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NBOA and NAIS Upcoming

February 24, 2017

Al Greenough and I are off to NBOA and NAIS next week, Ron Hill will be in the office to assist you should you need anything. We look forward to seeing those of you in attendance at both of these conferences, and more importantly, we anticipate sharing our findings with all of you through future Friday Flyers and through upcoming professional development opportunities.

We have many talented presenters within our association who routinely share their knowledge and expertise at these national and international conferences. We will be hosting Carolyn Hapeman and Margaret Haviland from Westtown on May 11 when they will share the 3-hour workshop they created for NAIS on aligning faculty compensation and evaluation with a school's mission. Please join us!

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Laws of the Grapevine

February 10, 2017

School leaders make important decisions every day -- it's what we do! Having accurate, reliable, timely data available is a critical factor in making good decisions, but applying that data to your school program and culture can be perilous even for the most seasoned professionals among us. We all know communication is the key!

This week, we welcome back Scott Barron from School Growth to PAISBOA on Wednesday, February 15 for his second installment - Laws of the Grapevine: Communication Strategies for the School Business Officer. According to Scott, "Just like every other school, you have a grapevine ecosystem throughout your community that can be an asset or a liability -- the difference is really up to you."

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ADVIS and the Purchasing Consortium

January 27, 2017

PAISBOA is committed to achieving leveraged strength through group purchasing, professional development, and best practices for the business office. 

Last week we partnered with ADVIS to discuss trends in enrollment and financial sustainability. We heard from Heather Hoerle, Executive Director of The Enrollment Management Association, about the state of independent school enrollment, and Genevieve Madigan, Vice President of Professional Development and Research at the National Business Officers Association, about the financial position of independent schools.

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2017 Brings Staffing Changes

January 13, 2017

Happy New Year!!! I hope all of you had an easy transition back to your routine after a holiday break filled with fun activities with family and friends!!!

I have some PAISBOA staffing news to share with you. As you know, Laura Ly has graciously filled in as our interim marketing and communications coordinator since July. Laura will be leaving PAISBOA at the end of January to pursue her passion for fine food and sustainable farming with some interesting opportunities. Laura has done a terrific job with the Friday Flyer, event planning and registration, ensuring the calendar project was completed, as well as assisting Al and me in the process of choosing a new association database. In many ways, she has gone above and beyond in this temporary role, and I am so grateful for her support in my onboarding process.

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2016: Year in Review

December 16, 2016

Our final Friday Flyer of 2016 comes as a bit of a wrap-up as we wind down 2016 and prepare for a New Year with lots in store for PAISBOA as we move into 2017.

I would like to thank my predecessor Emily Miller, who has provided me with valuable information and insight over the past few months. We appreciate Emily's focus on the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey this fall, and I know she will continue her advocacy for our member schools in her next adventure.

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HR Affinity Group Meeting Highlights

December 2, 2016

We had a terrific HR Affinity Group meeting yesterday with Susan Guerette and Michael Galey from Fisher and Phillips, which covered a variety of topics pertinent to HR professionals in both independent schools and universities. While the content was both instructive and timely -- given all of the complex issues in the HR realm -- the opportunity for over 50 HR professionals from all types of schools and universities to engage with each other, in person, and with HR legal experts around issues like hiring and firing best practices, FSLA, FMLA, ADA, etc., was unquestionably the key benefit of the day.

As with any great presentation, Susan and Michael left the group with more questions to consider, especially around the topic of performance evaluation and its potential impact on staffing decisions. Initial topics such as engagement letters, retirement incentives, a mechanism for non- renewal of faculty and staff, and options for dealing with situations that require a reduction in force due to decreased enrollment were identified as areas for more in-depth discussion at a meeting to be held in the spring. The consensus of the group is that performance evaluation is a complex issue for most schools and universities for many reasons, not the least of which is school and community culture and the lack of a system for formal evaluation.

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PAISBOA's Consortia

November 18, 2016

One of the core benefits of PAISBOA is access to group purchasing. As a member of PAISBOA, schools can take advantage of the leveraged purchasing power through the consortia for significant savings in both time, money, and vendor service. The consortia include:

While there are entrance requirements to some of the consortia, the benefits to schools are invaluable. Not only are there financial incentives to join the consortia, there are opportunities for members to network with each other as well as participate in annual meetings and professional development sessions and workshops led by vendor partners and industry experts designed specifically to help member schools stay current on best practices and current research in all areas critical to the business office.

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Financial Sustainability is Key

November 4, 2016

In one of my earliest conversations with the leadership of PAISBOA, I was asked to discuss an issue that affects independent, private schools. After ten years of service on the PAIS Commission for Accreditation, there were several challenges that I saw schools grapple with -- governance, balancing innovation and tradition, equity and social justice, teaching excellence, enrollment management, and culture. Still, my immediate reaction was Financial Sustainability!

Financial Sustainability is the linchpin for school health and viability, and for many of our member schools, this goal is becoming increasingly out of reach. There are numerous reports and articles about improving financial sustainability provided by NAIS, NBOA, and industry leaders that speak to strategies and tactics that schools can employ to bridge the sustainability gap - enrollment management, increasing non-tuition revenue and creating new financial models.

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