Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Institutional Growth During Tough Economic Times

Many schools, particularly private schools, are faced with balancing the need to develop/maintain programs while realizing the reality of tough economic conditions.  One possible option I have heard (from other schools) is to “freeze” growth plans, but is that a realistic option?

I am not sure it is possible for any school to “freeze” growth.  I say this because I differentiate between institutional growth and new initiatives.  While new ideas can be a part of growth, they do not necessarily define it.

There are many internal programs that can certainly be addressed with little impact on overall budget.  Specifics would be determined by individual school strategic plans and priorities.  To help identify them, ask yourself - “What types of internal/operational items have we been discussing for some time that seem to have trouble gaining traction?”  The answer may provide some clarity and an opportunity to continue your school’s growth while remaining sensitive to the difficulties of the current economy.

I liken this to a person committed to physical fitness, but who can no longer afford the health club membership.  There are options available to explore to maintain your fitness level, but also recognize the difficulty in paying for a membership.  Examples include using public parks, running outside, using alternative exercise routines in the home, etc.

It is often the tough times and how we respond to them that define us as individuals.  Our schools will also be judged on how they respond.  If committed, schools can continue to grow their programs – even if enrollment and revenue may be somewhat flat for a time.

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