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Strategic plan helps boost enrollment

Written on December 17th, 2007

A school that had been suffering a steady enrollment decline has been able to reverse its numbers thanks in large part to a strategic plan developed in consultation with an business advancement firm.

Two years ago St. Thomas Community Christian School decided to make the investment and recruit the services of Future Focus, a Waterloo-based business consulting company.

The firm had never worked with a Christian school before, says principal Janet Baird, but judging by results, this has not been a stumbling block.

Future Focus thoroughly investigated the entire structure and culture of the school. The team interviewed local pastors, researched the demographics of the area and spoke with key members of the St. Thomas Community Christian School Society, the school’s operating body.

A series of meeting also provided an opportunity for school leadership to give input.

With a solid concept of what the school was all about, Future Focus and the school board created a three-year strategic plan.

The plan includes enrollment goals, financial goals for donors, financial goals for new members, as well as other objectives.

The enrollment goals are quite “nitty-gritty,” according to Baird.

This past year the school’s goal for junior kindergarten was 12 students, a fairly large objective considering it averages five or six students.

Along with the plan, Future Focus worked with the school to create several new committees, including a faith relations committee, which works on establishing relationships with churches in the city. A business engagement committee focuses on building relationships with businesses and recruiting sponsorships, time or talents from them. Each of these new committees has specific goals to target each year.

The board and existing committees were also restructured, says Baird, adding that that change has been very welcome.

A key restructure has been to separate the roles of development and communications and create two different committees to address them.

Baird describes the communications committee at St. Thomas school as “more of an enabling committee.” It essentially does the legwork required to get a message out into the community, from creating posters to arranging for a billboard or distributing flyers.

The development committee determines how to attract people to the school. It works with the communications committee to get those ideas promoted and advertised.

The restructure means board meetings are now “very focused and strategic,” according to Baird. The meetings tend to finish quickly because the board isn’t immersed in doing committee work.

“We do the work of the board … I think that creates a momentum,” she says.

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