Strategic Plan FY13-16
As a Catholic school in the Benedictine tradition, we prepare students for success in higher education and for a lifetime of learning, service and leadership in a global society.
Our vision is to be renowned for academic rigor, dynamic programming, and the holistic development of students from all faiths and cultural backgrounds.
During 2011 and 2012, the Prep School was in a period of self-reflection, timed with the mandatory accreditation process required by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) that SJP follows every seven years. This self-reflection has included a survey to all stakeholders, focus groups with those stakeholders and a creation of a volunteer Strategic Planning Committee. The Headmaster’s Cabinet then compiled all of the data that had been collected and added more data including trends facing SJP, strengths and growth opportunities had in-depth discussions over eight months to create a strategic plan for FY13–16. The Board of Regents approved the strategic plan, as it follows, at its June 2012 meeting.
This strategic path is our path, created with all who care about the future of SJP, through the first word of the Rule of Saint Benedict, listen. The Cabinet and the Board of Regents have carefully listened and invite you to travel with us down this path into an incredible future for Saint John’s Prep.
This plan needed to be “SMART,” specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound and so the Cabinet looked to UCLA Anderson School of Management professor, Richard Rumelt’s Good Strategy/Bad Strategy as a roadmap for the plan. They wanted to avoid writing a plan that was loaded with bloviation, alliteration, fluffy packages of buzzwords and motivational slogans. Rumelt writes, “A strategy is not what you wish would happen. It is a set of practical actions for moving forward. It is not a ‘dog’s dinner’ of all the things various parties would like to see done. It is a focusing of energy and resources on a few key objectives whose accomplishment will make a real difference.”
With that in mind, the Cabinet created a set a “Givens,” known or established facts or situations about the Prep School which they did not have to address in a strategic plan, because Givens are managed through yearly operational plans. Givens are the essential elements of any successful institution.
- Rigorous academics with a liberal arts, college preparatory focus
- Coed, day and boarding, grades 6-12 and postgraduate
- Catholic and Benedictine
- Situated on a university and abbey campus, surrounded by 2,800 acres of lakes and woods
- Global population with 25% of students coming from numerous countries
- Full enrollment is 340 students; 65 per class in the Upper School and 80 in grades 6-8
- Private, independent and nationally accredited
- International Baccalaureate World School
- Actively engaged with alumni, families and friends to advance the mission
Strategic Objectives FY13-16
1. Develop a facility on the Prep campus for the boarding program that meets the residential and developmental needs of our students by the end of FY16.
2. Develop internal technology solutions that meet the needs of our learning community by the end of FY15.
3. Create and offer a competitive compensation package for our employees by the end of FY16.
4. Explore, clarify and propose a structure to align administrative authority with fiscal responsibilities for the Prep School in relationship to the Abbey and implement any changes by the end of FY14.
Strategic Objective #1
Develop a facility on the Prep campus for the boarding program that meets the residential and developmental needs of our students by the end of FY16.
Our girls’ residence program, which is vital to the community and the finances of SJP, has always been dependent on outside entities to accommodate our need for space. Over the years, this included host families, the College of Saint Benedict and the School of Theology. It is imperative that Saint John’s Prep take steps now to bring the girls home to the Prep campus and secure their living situation, once and for all. Without a permanent solution, we are in serious danger of losing the girls’ residence program which would have devastating effects on the entire Prep community.
Saint John’s Preparatory School operated as a boys-only boarding and day school from 1857 until Saint Benedict’s (all girls) High School in St. Joseph, MN closed in 1972. In 1973, Saint John’s Prep realized the opportunity to grow by opening admission to girls. The addition of boy and girl day students marked stability in enrollment and from 1975-1985 enrollment grew from 213 college prep students to 300; 75 of those students being girls. SJP’s 2011-12’s enrollment is 313, with 50% girls and 50% boys. Since Prep went co-educational in 1973, girls from outside the area lived with area host families. This arrangement limited the number of girls who could enroll; and it was also complicated by problems of transportation and extra-curricular involvement.
In the fall of 1992, Prep began a 19-year relationship with the College of Saint Benedict (CSB), leasing space at Richarda Hall. The cooperative and supportive efforts of CSB joined with the professional, able, and caring staff of the girls’ dorm, resulted in a program in which we take great pride. However, housing our girls was dependent on CSB being willing and able to provide this situation. In May 2011, CSB’s master plan included renovating Richarda Hall into office space. Therefore, we needed to find a different location for our girls’ residence program.
We were fortunate to find a solution by relocating our girls to the Saint John’s University (SJU) campus by entering into a three-year agreement with the Saint John’s School of Theology (SOT) to lease the second floor of Emmaus Hall. The space comfortably houses 32 girls and provides community lounge, laundry, kitchen, and computer space. The lease expires on May 31, 2016. It is likely that the SOT will renew our lease through 2016, but not beyond that because of the growth they are experiencing.
Of similar importance is the creation and implementation of a deferred maintenance plan for our boys’
residence, Saint Michael Hall. As this building reaches its 50th year, it has issues typical of a building of this age. These problems are outlined in a program summary written by the Director of Residential Life in December 2011. A deferred maintenance plan, with resources to annually fund it, is critical to the future of the residential life program and in turn, SJP.
All decisions will contribute to creating an environment that fosters academic success and social development.
1.1. Obtain board and Abbey approval for a capital campaign and building project. This action step will require time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet, the Board, a feasibility study, architect drawings and a program plan. It will be led by the Headmaster and completed by July 31, 2012.
1.2. Following final approval, initiate an ongoing effort to communicate the case for a new residential facility to all constituents throughout the duration of the campaign. This action step will require time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet, Board leadership, consultants and campaign leadership, a capital campaign budget. This action step will be led by the Director of Advancement and completed at the end of the campaign.
1.3. Create a deferred maintenance plan for Saint Michael Hall. This action step will require time from the Director of Finance and Facilities, the Director of Residential Life, the Headmaster’s Cabinet, Saint John’s Physical Plant personnel and an allocation of financial resources; it will be led by the Director of Finance and Facilities and be completed by July 31, 2012.
1.4. Finalize financing for approved proposal. This action step will require time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet, Board leadership, consultants and campaign leadership, a capital campaign budget and will be led by the Director of Advancement, completed by January 31, 2016.
1.5. Build the facility. This action step will require time from the Director of Finance and Facilities, the Director of Residential Life, the Headmaster’s Cabinet, Saint John’s Physical Plant personnel and financial resources from the capital campaign; it will be led by the Director of Finance and Facilities and completed by July 31, 2016.
1.6. Begin the implementation of the deferred maintenance plan for SMH. This will require allocated financial resources and time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet and Director of Finance and Facilities, who will also lead this action step and complete it by June 30, 2016.
This objective will be determined a success when residential facilities exist on the Prep campus which meet the residential and developmental needs of our students.
Strategic Objective #2
Develop internal technology solutions that meet the needs of our learning community by FY15.
Technology, both in terms of hardware and use, is an essential component for schools. In addition to the refinement and extension of student learning through the use of technology, critical skills for the world of work are taught and developed.
Saint John’s Prep seeks to prepare students not just for college, but also life after college. This means that students who graduate from Prep must possess the essential writing, reading, thinking, and social skills necessary for future success, including basic competencies and proficiencies in software applications.
The most significant technology-related challenge facing schools, however, is the ever-changing nature of technology. Computers and software are quickly obsolete, training is constantly required, and technology structures often change. All of these factors add increasing costs and logistical difficulties for administration, faculty, parents, and students.
The most sustainable and practical solutions to the issues of education technology involve developing programs and structures that allow schools to be nimble and adaptive to constant changes in learning and instruction needs. These structures include physical requirements (i.e. power outlets, wireless internet access points, etc.), instructional strategies (i.e. class websites, interactive activities, flipped classrooms, etc.), and utilization of hardware systems (i.e. laptops, iPads and tablets, SmartBoards, clickers, etc.). Schools that are positioned to more quickly and efficiently adapt will be most successful in delivery and utilization of technology and related skills.
One of the most difficult technology issues specifically affecting Saint John’s Prep is our reliance on University IT Services for our technology needs. The Prep School does not have the flexibility to develop its own technology policies appropriate for secondary education, nor do we have the flexibility to purchase and use software and hardware that supports our mission.
Technology decisions will advance the educational goals and technological autonomy of Saint John’s Prep.
2.1. Research colleges, universities and the workplace so as to better understand baseline technological competencies for our students. Determine best practices of peer and aspirant schools as benchmarks. Resources will include time from the Director of Counseling and Headmaster’s Cabinet. This action step will be led by the Director of Counseling and completed by August 31, 2012.
2.2 Develop a technology philosophy for all aspects of the school. Resources will include time from the Technology Coordinator and the Headmaster’s Cabinet. This action step will be led by the Technology Coordinator and will be completed by December 31, 2012.
2.3. Create and implement a comprehensive technology plan. Resources will include time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet, technology consultants and an allocation of financial resources. This action step will be led by the Principal and completed by June 30, 2015.
This objective will be determined a success when our needs are met and the technological infrastructure advances the mission of the school
Strategic Objective #3
Create and offer a competitive compensation package for our employees by the end of FY16.
For well over the first 100 years of the Prep School, the faculty and staff were nearly all monastics. Beginning in the late 1960s, the employee composition began to reflect the nationwide trend of Catholic schools, from 77% religious to 97% lay people. Currently we have two employees who are monastics, our Headmaster and one of the Campus Ministers. While monastics were highly educated and qualified, establishing SJP’s reputation for rigorous academics and spiritual growth, salary and benefits were not critical to hiring or retention. Consequently, SJP did not have to concern itself with compensation issues until recently. Looking forward, we need to be aware that attracting and retaining the best educators is a real challenge. Professionals are more mobile in 2012 and are able and willing to move out of Central Minnesota. Our college preparatory curriculum demands the best teaching faculty possible.
In 1998-99, the faculty and staff accepted a salary range comparable to 90% of our local school district (742). The 10% difference was made up through tuition assistance and remission, grad school remission (which is no longer a benefit), teaching motivated students and the general community of Saint John’s. With the necessary pay freezes and small percentage increases in salaries in recent years, we have not kept pace with the promise of 90%. We’ve slipped to 85.37%.
The elements of compensation that should be reviewed are health insurance, dental insurance, retirement, college tuition remission, salary, access to Saint John’s amenities, tuition assistance for SJP and the ability to take one free college course per semester. We also need to review and possibly realign the salary structure, ensuring consistency and clear procedures and policies. Through this process, we will develop a profile of the type of employee to attract and retain. One of our biggest challenges is the need to change the external and internal perception that we are competing for students and employees at a local level. Instead, we should aspire to be a nationally renowned prep school, competing with the likes of Philips Exeter Academy, for the very best students, faculty and staff.
The excellent teaching and administrative staff we currently have in place was promised tuition assistance for their children to attend Saint John’s Prep (7-12) at no cost and tuition remission for their children to attend CSB/SJU and a host of other choices through the tuition consortium program. This benefit was seen as a way to offset a lower salary base and many employees made their choice to work and stay at Prep, based on that promise. Other benefits of working at the Prep School includes smaller class sizes, a reduced teaching load and access to the amenities of Saint John’s. As public schools are increasing their attention to gifted and motivated students, the Prep School is no longer the only choice for faculty who are motivated by that group of students.
We will develop, provide and sustain a compensation package that strengthens the academic quality of the school.
3.1. Conduct an up-to-date internal compensation analysis. This action step will require time by the Director of Finance and Facilities and the Principal; it will be led by Principal and completed by August 31, 2013.
3.2. Determine our peer and aspirant schools in order to establish appropriate benchmarks. Resources include time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet and will be led by the Headmaster and completed by December 31, 2013.
3.3. Define and articulate employee position descriptions. This action step will require time from Human Resources and the Headmaster’s Cabinet. It will be led by the Principal and completed by August 31, 2014.
3.4. Create and define non-compensated benefits and salary structure. Resources include financial resources, time by the Headmaster’s Cabinet, Human Resources and the Finance Committee of the Board. This action step will be led by the Headmaster and completed by December 31, 2014.
3.5. Communicate and discuss the new structure with faculty and staff and implement for current employees and new hires. This action step will require time from the Headmaster’s Cabinet and will be led by the Headmaster and completed by January 31, 2015.
The best possible outcome that we can expect is that we will be able to attract and retain the best faculty and staff. We will be able to strategically move from a goal of keeping pace to being pacesetters, measured via a comparable mix of peer and aspirant schools instead of Dist. 742. Students will benefit from a stable, engaged cohort of teachers. Lastly, we will have leverage to expect higher performance levels and we expect that everyone’s performance level will be raised as faculty and staff personally challenge themselves.
This objective will be determined a success when we have a premiere compensation package that is agreed upon by a majority of stakeholders and supports an atmosphere of professionalism, quality teaching and broader involvement.
Strategic Objective #4
Explore, clarify and propose a structure to align administrative authority with fiscal responsibilities for the Prep School in relationship to the Abbey and implement any changes by the end of FY14.
For the first 154 years of the Prep School’s existence, the business functions of the school have been handled by Saint John’s Abbey. Saint John’s Preparatory School operates as one of the units of the Order of Saint Benedict. For that reason, it made the most sense for the business functions of the school to be handled through Saint John’s Abbey so that the Prep School could focus on its primary mission of providing academic rigor and spiritual growth for its students. With the addition of a full-time Director of Finance and Facilities, the necessity of financial flexibility and the change in financial dependence on the Abbey, the school is in a strong position to internalize all administrative functions. Administrative autonomy will let us be more creative and attentive to the broader needs of our students, both today and into the future.
The SJP Cabinet will be equipped with the information and resources needed to exercise fiscal efficiency and good stewardship.
4.1. Identify and assess current processes and procedures of the SJP business office and the Abbey business office (as it relates to SJP). Include a cost and needs analysis. This action step will require time from the Director of Finance and Facilities, the Abbey Business Office, the Headmaster, the Finance Committee, and the Student Accounts and Records Coordinator and it will be led by the Director of Finance and Facilities and completed by the November 2012 SJP Board of Regents meeting.
4.2. If necessary, propose administrative and fiscal changes to the SJP business office and the Abbey business office (as it relates to SJP) in order to align authority and responsibility. Bring the proposal to the Abbey Senior council for discussion and review. This action step will require time from the Director of Finance and Facilities, the Abbey Business Office and the Headmaster, and it will be led by the Director of Finance and Facilities and completed by the February 2013 SJP Board of Regents meeting.
4.3. Call for a vote for the SJP Board of Regents to approve the proposal. This action step will require time from the Headmaster and Board of Regents; it will be led by the Headmaster and completed by the May 2013 SJP Board of Regents meeting.
4.4. Call for a vote for the Abbey to approve the proposal. This action step will require time from the Headmaster and the Senior Council of the Abbey; it will be led by the Headmaster and completed by June 30, 2013.
4.4. Implement new policies and procedures pertaining to strategic objective #4 as approved by the SJP Board of Regents and the Abbey. This action step will require time from the administrative staff, Abbey business office, Finance Committee, Cabinet, SJP Business Office staff and it will be led by the Director of Finance and Facilities and completed by December 31, 2013.
This objective will be determined a success when administrative authority is aligned with fiscal responsibilities for the Prep School in relationship to the Abbey, “cascading” effects are achieved throughout SJP and the business staff is an active part of the Prep School community.