Monthly Update from Board Chairs Ann Balderston and Richard Yates
Dear Members of the Allendale Columbia Community,
We are well into the second month of the school year, and the AC campus is alive with excitement and activity. We have had the opportunity to speak with many of you, and your continued energy, optimism, and support are appreciated. Here is an update on our progress in creating a plan for AC’s future:
Search for Interim Head: We are very pleased and impressed with the response we have received from our post for an Interim Head of School on the AC, National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) websites. The deadline for applications was October 15th. Because this is an interim position, the search process is different than a traditional Head of School search and is being led by four Board Trustees. Numerous candidates (both external and internal) have been reviewed, and we are confident we will be able to make a selection that will allow us to maintain the strength of our program while continuing our work towards a sustainable future. The Interim Head of School appointment will be made and announced by the end of November.
Financial Plan: We are acutely aware of your desire for answers about the plan, and we are working as quickly as possible with the Board and Leadership Team to provide them to you. AC’s current financial circumstance was created over a period of many years, and it will take some time to “right the ship”. We are extremely optimistic as we plan for 2020-2021 and are working on a long-term plan.
We are currently examining a variety of multi-year financial models that reflect a sustainable future for AC. We will be finalizing a plan over the next month in connection with our accreditation process with NYSAIS. We are confident in the work being done by the Board and Leadership Team to re-vision AC’s finances for the 2020-2021 academic year, and we look forward to sharing that vision with you when it’s completed. We are confident that the work being done on our finances, combined with our fundraising efforts, will demonstrate AC’s financial viability for years to come.
Fundraising: The response to our StandWithAC Appeal and to the AC Day of Giving has been encouraging. Since the beginning of this school year, we have already received almost as many gifts as we did all of last fiscal year, and our participation has increased. We are happy to share that parent giving has more than doubled since last year, we have 100% board participation, and over 90% faculty and staff participation.
While we are delighted by this trend, we still need increased support from all of AC’s constituents to continue to strengthen the financial position. In the next two months, we will continue to reach out to major donors, parents, alumni, and friends to discuss their commitments to AC. It is our hope that you will consider making AC your primary philanthropic priority at this time. The support we are seeing is a tribute to the value so many of you place on the AC experience.
Our next fundraising event will be our Friday Night Fiesta on November 1st at AC. It will be a fun night of authentic Mexican food where you can learn a skill or two and help raise additional funds for the school. We will also be making an exciting announcement at the celebration. We hope to see you there! For details and to purchase tickets, please click here.
Enrollment: Our first Open House for prospective students is on Thursday, October 24th from 5:00-7:00 p.m., and we have a great response so far. It is encouraging to see our new student enrollment numbers were high again this year, and believe this positive trend will continue. Please talk about AC with your friends and encourage anyone who might be interested in learning more about other educational opportunities in Rochester to contact our enrollment office. Word of mouth is our best referral.
Parent Involvement: We are grateful to the parents and alumni who have stepped up to help the Board and Leadership Team undertake all the work to support an independent future of AC. These volunteers are making a meaningful impact on Enrollment, Development, Investment/Endowment, Audit, and Alternative Revenue Committees.
We appreciate all of you who have asked how you can help and your offers to support the school. Our two main areas of need at this time are new students and donations, so referrals to our admissions office and gifts to the school are the most effective ways you can help us achieve our goal of financial sustainability. If you are interested in volunteering, please click here for some ways you can help and who to contact.
As Trustees, our main focus has been on the fiscal health of the school. At our October Board meeting, our Lower, Middle, and Upper School Division Heads presented on areas of excellence and differentiation at AC. We learned more about project-based learning, partnerships, collaborations with international schools, relationships among the Divisions, and the focus on resilience and character building. It was inspiring and fantastic!
You will be hearing more about the strength of our programs and the innovations that differentiate us from other schools, both public and private, throughout the year from the Division Heads and AC communications. We will continue to provide monthly updates about the progress we’re making from a financial perspective. We are moving in the right direction and hope you will continue to StandWithAC.
We encourage you to contact us with any questions at Trustees@allendalecolumbia.
Ann and Richard
Ann Balderston P’04, P’07, P’10 Richard Yates P’15
Co-Chair, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Board of Trustees