ERIC Number: EJ1020342
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
When Mission and Market Forces Intersect: How Independent Schools Navigated Economic Uncertainty
Gilmore, Barry; Rush, Matthew J.
Independent School, v72 n3 Spr 2013
Nationwide, the Great Recession arrived as independent schools entered various stages of strategic planning, building projects, fund-raising drives, enrollment efforts, and programmatic reforms--and all schools needed to consider how best to proceed. In order to understand the actual effects of the economic downturn, the authors undertook a year-long study in 2011-2012 that investigated the impact of the recession on financial processes and operations at independent schools. The study employed a mixed-methods model to explore the intersection of mission and market forces in school operations and decision making. Using the NAIS database of approximately 1,300 independent schools, a survey of more than 900 heads of school and business managers from across the country, and interviews with more than 100 stakeholders at six Southeastern independent schools, the authors delineated four major areas by which to gauge the effects of the recession on school decision making and operations. Among the key findings were that schools: (1) reacted to the recession quickly and planned prudently; (2) focused on and maintained enrollment, but experienced some unexpected enrollment trends; (3) maintained their programming and many of their financial goals; and (4) made adjustments in a number of areas, either temporarily or permanently, as a result of market pressures. Additionally, the interviews revealed that schools experienced three key areas of self-examination and growth of school culture in terms of the role of school leadership, community building, and organizational learning. The study suggests that independent schools seemed to weather the economic storm better than they themselves had anticipated. Based on the study, 10 guidelines for independent schools are recommended.
Descriptors: Private Schools, Economic Climate, Educational Finance, Mixed Methods Research, Institutional Mission, Decision Making, Governance, Surveys, Interviews, Administrator Attitudes, Planning, Enrollment Trends, School Culture, Leadership Responsibility, Administrator Role, Communities of Practice, Guidelines, Budgeting
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site: http://www.nais.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A