Vacation, Self-Care, and Sleep

March 22, 2019

With one week left in the month of March, we find ourselves in the throes of March Madness (literally and figuratively!), and many independent schools are either returning from or just heading out for Spring Break. For those of you with April spring breaks this year, you are likely trying to keep the wheels on until then. March is a tough month—the weather is iffy, daylight savings knocks everyone off their game for a few days, and for many schools and universities, it feels like a long time since the winter holiday.

For those of you fortunate enough to travel over your break this month or next, or even enjoy a staycation; getting away from work is good for you and good for your school. Rather than leave vacation time on the table like 52% of Americans who don’t use 212 million vacation days annually, here are three good reasons to take your vacation:

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A Consultant, an Astronaut, a Congresswomen, and an Artist go to a Conference in SoCal…

March 8, 2019

This sounds like the beginning of a good story…right??? And, it was. As winter begins to fade, and the hope of spring is in the air, many of us travel to the annual meetings for NAIS and NBOA to reignite our passion for independent school education, reconnect with colleagues from all over the world, and learn how to better support the business operations of our schools. It was my privilege to represent the independent schools and universities at both conferences on behalf of PAISBOA. Kudos to Donna Orem, Jeff Shields and their respective teams for excellent programs, and here are some of my takeaways from my week in cloudy, southern California:


Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, said, “The most powerful innovation happens at the ‘Intersection,’ where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, and disciplines collide.” Despite all we have heard about needing 10,000 hours of practice to attain mastery in a discipline, Johansson asserts that innovation is less about expertise and more about how you can rapidly combine insights and ideas, often widely disparate, to create surprising and unique breakthroughs. He explains that with a sport like tennis where the rules and playing field do not change, it is possible to become great with hours of practice, but with the pace of change happening in business, industry, geopolitics, and education, the need to innovate requires a shift to a new model of fast-moving, diverse and inclusive teams that can rapidly uncover new, innovative pathways for growth.

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Are YOU Hiring Like It’s 1999?

February 22, 2019

This past Wednesday morning, while many were bracing for the next nuisance snow event, some of us were chatting with Dr. Greg Martin of The Perkiomen School about faculty hiring in independent schools. Dr. Martin’s research about independent school hiring is most timely with the perfect storm of record numbers of baby boomer faculty about to retire, low unemployment rates, and the traditional “triple threat” hiring model that does not align with the type of work/life balance millennials and Gen Z graduates value.

Independent Schools are facing challenges in three main areas related to hiring the best talent.

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School Safety and Security Update

February 8, 2019

While school safety and security is always on our minds, it often jumps to the top of our to-do list unexpectedly! Over the past couple of months, there have been numerous steering committee conversations with business officers, HR professionals and plant managers as well as recent the e-list discussions which have warranted further research about school safety by the PAISBOA staff. Your questions and our explorations highlight the need for further education and information on several topics.

With that in mind, PAISBOA is planning a Safety and Security Summit on Thursday, April 25 at the PAISBOA Offices. This is our regular bi-monthly meeting for Plant Managers, and will include important information for Heads of School, Business Officers, Technology Directors and other school leaders. We will have an educational component and a panel discussion about safety and security tools. We will have more information out to you shortly!

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Best Practices or Bad Habits?

January 25, 2019

Happy New Year!!! While I am not a big fan of the New Year’s resolution — there are many people who believe in starting the year resolved to change their habits. My perspective is if you need to make a change, why wait until the new year? I prefer to pick a theme for the year.

In 2018, PAISBOA focused on member engagement, and in 2019, we are focusing on group purchasing. PAISBOA was founded on the concept of group purchasing, with a mantra of “all for one, one for all”, and with the core values of integrity, transparency and loyalty. This back to basics approach, with a fresh perspective from the PAISBOA Services Corporation Board and Purchasing Consortium Steering Committee, will serve our members well as we assess our group purchasing programs in the coming year.

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Winding Down 2018 and Looking Ahead to 2019

December 20, 2018

As we wind down 2018, and perhaps take a breath over the winter holiday break, there are some big ideas headed our way in 2019. Isabel Roughol and Laura Lorenzetti Soper from LinkedIn gathered business leaders, authors, journalists and academics to give their 2019 predictions. In 50 Big Ideas for 2019: What to Watch in the Year Ahead, experts foresee a shaky economy, a troubled world order and continued anxiety — but also a renewed focus on caring for ourselves, for each other and for doing the right thing.

As independent school leaders, here are some trends that are worth watching:

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What Is Keeping You Up at Night?

December 7, 2018

Last week I had the privilege of being part of the delegation from Pennsylvania at the North American Conference on the Business Office (NACOBO) sponsored by NBOA. Carol Lerner from The Philadelphia School, Adam Wojtelwicz from Shipley School, and I joined Business Officers from all over North America to discuss all the things that keep business officers up at night!

Thanks to Jeff Shields and his team at NBOA, we identified issues, looked at the independent school business model, talked about affordability and accessibility, assessed our leadership strengths, and built our personal and professional network. As with all NBOA programs, we had an ambitious schedule, worked hard, and enjoyed good food, fellowship and fun with a most congenial group of old and new friends.

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Gratitude is Good!!!

November 16, 2018

There are two things that businesses -- or in our case, independent schools and universities -- can’t have enough of: revenue, for obvious reasons, and gratitude. We often fail to appreciate our current students and families, and reward high-performing employees by piling on more tasks and responsibilities. Why is gratitude as important as revenue, and what causes this “failure to appreciate?”

  1. Focus on the new – new always seems more interesting than ones we already have
  2. Busy and Rushing – seems like we don’t have time for the small things like “thank you”
  3. Lack of prioritization – gratitude seems to be the last item on our checklist
  4. Fear of creating new demands – the notion that employees who are appreciated will ask for more money
  5. Feeling uncomfortable – when you never receive appreciation, you might not know how to show appreciation to others

Expressing gratitude is good for business and people. When receiving feedback, we feel the negative with three times the strength we feel the positive. As a culture, we give 10 times more negative than positive feedback. As Camille Preston tells us, “we need 3:1 and we are getting 1:10.” It's no wonder so many are unfulfilled in their work!

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The Results Are In - How Healthy is Your School?

November 2, 2018

Yesterday was Organizational Health Day with Scott Barron from School Growth, Inc. and today, for those of you who participated in the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey, the results of the General Survey are in! Why are these two seemingly unrelated items noteworthy?

Something Scott Barron said yesterday stuck with me, “Data driven strategic planning is critical to uncovering and leveraging the powerful genius of your school and leadership. Because your school has a distinct context, copy and pasting from other schools is a weak and ineffective way to plan.” With the data from the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey, you are now able to use your distinct data to support your journey to better organizational health.

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Business as Usual -- or Evolution?

October 19, 2018

This past Wednesday at the ADVIS/E.E. Ford Program, “Transformative Models for Independent School Sustainability“ which was sponsored, in part, by PAISBOA, we heard from John Gulla about some of the ways the E.E. Ford Foundation is helping independent secondary schools become better versions of themselves. One of these is by offering grants to schools and associations, like ADVIS, in the independent school space. Many of the PAISBOA secondary schools have benefitted from these grants to explore ways in which they can “leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout this country by supporting and disseminating best practice, by supporting efforts to develop and implement models of sustainability, and by encouraging collaboration with other institutions.”

Gulla asserted that we (independent schools) are pricing ourselves out of existence, and that according to NAIS, only 15% of their member schools exist in a place where they have enough financial aid resources; the rest live in a world of net tuition revenue.

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PAISBOA Hits the Road!

October 5, 2018

The PAISBOA Team is embarking on a tour of our member schools in order listen to our constituents and to bring the membership benefits of PAISBOA to you. Our plan is to engage with schools that are willing to come together in small groups of schools for a "Lunch and Learn" program that will include a networking opportunity for our members as well as a short professional development program.

We will be inviting the business officer and his/her team – HR professionals, plant and operations managers, and technology directors will be included. All the PAISBOA staff members will be on hand to present information about PAISBOA programs and benefits, and answer your questions throughout the day.

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Why We All Should Care about Student Loan Debt

September 21, 2018

Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category - behind only mortgage debt - and higher than both credit cards and auto loans, according to Forbes. Make Lemonade, a personal finance comparison site, cites there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.

Here are some of the staggering statistics:

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What Did You Read This Summer?

September 7, 2018

I love to read! For as long as I can remember, I have had a summer reading assignment. In the beginning of my educational journey, there were required summer reading books that would prepare me for the upcoming school year. Somewhere around high school we had some required books to read and a list of books from which we could choose. I read them all!

When my kids started school and had their own summer reading assignments, I read their summer reading with them — we read everything from Call of the Wild and the Harry Potter series to The Bridge to Teribithia and the Twilight series. I also read The Good Earth (again) and Cold Mountain — both of which my daughter and I struggled to get through. We are a family of readers!

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Data, Dashboards, and Decision-Making

August 24, 2018

Data, Dashboards, and Decision-Making

PAISBOA General Survey Closes October 5
PAISBOA Salary Survey Closes October 12

With the help of our Survey Gurus (Tom Devine, Frank Aloise, Larry Capuzzi, Mark Gibbons, David Gold, and Jayme Karolyi), the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey launched on August 6. Our member schools and universities use a variety of surveys; however, the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey is the only survey built for and by business officers with a focus on operational and salary benchmarking. Best of all, the results are geographically relevant. We encourage all our schools and universities to participate this year — more schools equals more data!

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Change and Influencers

July 20, 2018

Change and Influencers

Change is inevitable! Every year on July 1, many of our schools and universities experience changes in leadership and changes in personnel throughout their communities. While change can be necessary, exciting, and transformative, it can also be unsettling, challenging, and operational. New leaders and colleagues guarantee a shift in the status quo. So, how can new leaders and colleagues navigate their new workplace, and how do current leaders and colleagues create an onboarding experience that gets these new folks off to a good start?

When entering a new community, a person only has one chance to make a first impression, and new leaders and colleagues have an opportunity impact their new workplace right from the start. Embracing the 9 Core Behaviors of People Who Positively Impact the World can help you be the “maker, shaker, or disruptor” in “powerful and constructive ways.”

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What is ERM and Why Should We Care About It?

June 15, 2018

I received a call this week from a PAISBOA member who had an inquiry from a board member about Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). He was familiar with ERM from his work in the corporate world and wondered if ERM was being used in educational institutions.

While many independent schools and universities have audit committees and engage in risk management best practices, more and more are beginning to embrace ERM. Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) is defined by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) as a process, effected by an entity's board of directors, management and other personnel which is:

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Integrity, Transparency, and Loyalty in Action

June 1, 2018

PAISBOA has a long history of collaboration and cooperation through group purchasing for business insurance, energy, health insurance, and our purchasing consortium for goods and services.  PAISBOA has built a strong reputation in the region, in the independent school community, and in higher education as a brand you can trust—a brand that is steeped in integritytransparency and loyalty.  You should expect that from us, and we expect that from you.

In our work with our vendor partners—we look for the best in class with excellent pricing, stability, and customer service for our members, and we also expect our vendor partners to subscribe to the same values as PAISBOA— integritytransparency, and loyalty, in their work with us.  As your membership association, PAISBOA is committed to building strong, respectful relationships with you and for you, and since PAISBOA’s inception, Al Greenough has been the steward of those relationships.

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2018 Annual Meeting Program Highlights

May 18, 2018

Continuing our coverage of the PAISBOA Annual Meeting on April 26, we want to highlight the programs and speakers from the day.  PAISBOA is fortunate to have excellent resources for professional presenters on wide variety of topics within the membership of the association. We not only have experts within our member schools; we have knowledgeable vendor partners who are most willing to share their skill, information, and data to empower business officers to excel.

Dr. Marisa Porges, Head of The Baldwin School, presented a general session for all participants titled: SCHOOL SAFETY AND SECURITY: STRATEGIES.  One of the main responsibilities of our schools is to create and maintain a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors. Dr. Porges shared best practices that independent school leaders should consider to ensure campus safety and security, while maintaining a welcoming environment for community members.

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PAISBOA Honors its Own!

May 4, 2018

Last week at our Annual Meeting, we had the opportunity to honor two of our own – one volunteer, and one of the founders of the organization that has become PAISBOA — both trailblazers in their own way. Both of these individuals deserve our recognition for their many accomplishments, and by doing so, the membership was able share in the history of the association and understand through these exemplars how one can live the core values of integrity, transparency and loyalty and our mantra of “all for one and one for all” in their own lives.

As a Board Member, Business Officer, and advocate for children with special needs, Gail Crane exemplifies the many qualities which make her the perfect candidate for PAISBOA’s highest honor, the John Batley Award. In June 2018, Gail will complete her 28th year of service as a Business Officer for three Independent Schools: Greene Street Friends School, Hill Top Preparatory School, and most recently, The Quaker School at Horsham. During this time, she also served two separate terms totaling 8 years as a Board Member of PAISBOA, and for the last 4 years she has also served as a member of the Purchasing Consortium Steering Committee.

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Don't Miss the 2018 PAISBOA Annual Meeting!

April 20, 2018

I had the privilege of attending the ATLIS conference this week in Washington, DC as guest of Executive Director Sarah Hanawald, and presented a workshop with Damian Kavanagh, Executive Director of MISBO, on Making the Perfect Pitch to Get the Resources You Need for Your School. ATLIS is the Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools, and their mission is to provide targeted professional development to technology professionals. Membership in ATLIS gives schools access to top-notch professional development, a mentorship program, resources, and networking opportunities with colleagues throughout the US.

In the opening keynote, Donna Orem, President of NAIS, spoke about Innovating in the Fast Lane: The Role for Technology Leaders in the Coming Decade. Donna is a voracious reader and always shares book titles that she finds interesting in her remarks. This time, there were two that caught my attention. In referencing The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Donna challenged us to think about “When technology changes exponentially but schools change logarithmically, it’s crucial to be very deliberate about which technological changes you embrace, in what priority.” She moved on to discuss balancing innovation and financial sustainability, suggesting another book, Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less -and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined by Scott Sonenshein. Donna compared the “chasing mindset” (new ideas = new resources) and the “stretching mindset” (putting your creativity to work with the resources you already have), basically debunking the notion that to innovate you need more.

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