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Creating Sustainable School Organizations

Creating Sustainable School Organizations

March 23, 2010
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The following interview with Martin Peyer, TADS CEO, appeared in Catholic Educator Daily News

CEDN: How are you involved with sustainable schools?
Martin: TADS works with several hundred schools around the nation in the financial aid, tuition management and enrollment processes. Our success depends on us helping schools succeed. While working with schools and attending conferences, we are exposed to success factors.

CEDN: What are the main attributes that sustainable schools share?
Martin: The core needs for successful schools include good leadership at the board and CEO/principal level with a common vision/mission, good teachers in tune with your vision, appropriate curriculum that meets the student and family needs, efficient business office processes for administrators and families and good communication with all stakeholders. Successful schools know how well they are meeting their varied constituent needs and strive to continually improve their serve.

CEDN: Can you name some secondary attributes?
Martin: We see adequate funding, appropriate physical plant to match curriculum, students matched to vision/mission, good student records management, and individual student needs being met through the family as being important to excelling schools.

CEDN: Where can a school start? What initial focus?
Martin: Start with an involved board committed to evaluating current status. A significant step is to evaluate the demographics in your drawing area to confirm that your school can be sustained as you vision it. Then review the checklist of attributes to see which area you need to address first, second et cetera. The complete checklist is available elsewhere in this publication.

CEDN: What resources can a school draw upon for improvement?
Martin: My favorite resource for overall improvement is the Baldrige Award criteria. They are available at www.baldrige.nist.gov/Education_Criteria.htm. An excellent source of examples and improvement focus can be found at the Professional Learning Communities website, where educators collaborate and share solutions: allthingsplc.info/tools/samples.php. Many Diocesan education departments are able to provide resources for local use. They tend to see many schools with the same issues locally. In the end though, nothing can supplant the contributions from your local stakeholders. Engage them in conversations. Enlist their support. Collaborate and thrive.

CEDN: How does TADS contribute to sustainable schools?
Martin: TADS has resources for the demographic analysis. From there schools can start on their journey to thriving in their community. TADS also provides integrated, cost effective solutions to the admissions, enrollment, financial aid and billing/tuition collections pieces of the puzzle. TADS systems provide continuity for basic school business functions when leadership changes. With the main parts of student and family financial management taken care of, leadership is free to focus on the other successful school attributes.

CEDN: What final words would you share with leadership teams?
Martin: Promoting a sustainable school depends on addressing all relevant factors to assure that your community supports you adequately. After you determine that your school should survive, create the strategic plan to address the most obvious needs first. Continue on the improvement path with continuing evaluations. Schools thrive because their communities support them. Work at it.