The content below is generously provided by MISBO Vendor EIS (Education Insurance Services). EIS is a sister company to United Educators (UE), the only carrier owned and governed by the educational institutions it insures.
As Students Return, So Do Exposures
Back-to-school is often a time of eager anticipation for administrators, teachers, students, and their families. Yet for the business officer, this is an important time to be mindful of the heightened risks during the early weeks of the school year. For new students in particular, who may not be familiar with the campus yet, take steps now to reduce the risk of:
Slips and falls: Always a common source of claims, a study of independent school claims by United Educators (UE) found the 39% of claims occurred on walkways (stairs, sidewalks, doorways) and 24% involved a water hazard (ice, spills, and sometimes snow). Take steps now to repair walkways and ensure that a process is in place to quickly address water issues.
Athletic injuries: Be mindful that injuries can occur within, and outside of, organized sports. In fact, UE has settled several high-dollar claims resulting from recreational activity at schools, such as an injury sustained from a biking accident.
Sexual assault: Sexual assault involving school employees and students is of heightened concern for independent schools due to recent media reports around this issue. In addition, of assault claims resulting in a loss, UE found the majority (58%) involved peer-to-peer sexual assault. Review and reinforce sexual misconduct policies for staff and students; conduct training on this important issue; and provide immediate attention and response when incidents are reported.
Fortunately, for most schools, the transition for incoming students this fall will go smoothly and set the course for a positive academic experience. Taking steps now to ensure their safety and well-being will go a long way toward making that happen.
For information about insurance that best protects your school from these unique exposures, visit, or direct your broker to, the online toolkit for Education Insurance Services (EIS). EIS is a sister company to United Educators, the nation’s largest liability insurer dedicated solely to education.
And just like that it is August! Next week MISBO’s auditors are onsite for 3-4 days; most of the work was done by the end of last week. However, it still takes time and energy. I am guessing that many of you understand exactly what I am talking about.
For MISBO staff our attention turns toward our fall programming including the 2016 MISBO Fall Conference. Designing Intelligent Schools is the theme for the conference to be held October 5-7, 2016 at the Sonesta Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC. Most conferences have a theme and we believe that this theme should give you some idea of the program you can expect. I started “designing” the theme and program for the conference after I saw Dr. Marc Brackett speak to a group of primarily business officers in California over a year ago. Immediately after that session, I spoke to Dr. Brackett. After a series of conversations, I invited him to open/keynote MISBO’s Fall Conference.
There are many definitions of emotional intelligence, but this picture from Daniel Goleman is a good visualization:
You may be wondering why this is important for me. Well, there are few moments during your day when you are not interacting with others. Having self-awareness of your own emotional intelligence and then understanding others, and the intersections and interactions, will allow you to be a more productive manager, deal with difficult situations better, interact with a wide and diverse set of constituents more effectively, and understand your colleagues (faculty), students, and parents with a new perspective. I’m sure some of this resonates with you. Well, I believe that Dr. Brackett’s session will provide each of you with a new set of skills to help you at your school – and in life!
We had not determined a theme yet for the conference when I met Christian Long, Founder, Wonder By Design. Christian and I immediately started talking about his work and the journey he had taken to get to this place as well as the journey I had taken to get to MISBO. We learned that we were both passionate about the learning environments in our schools and the importance to our children of being in spaces that are conducive to learning and teaching, for both the students and the faculty. I asked Christian to be part of the fall conference (you can see and hear Christian talk about his part of the program here). Now a theme was developing. With lots of help and suggestions from MISBO staff, we ended up with Designing Intelligent Schools.
Once these ideas came together, it was a matter of reaching out to other people/groups to provide sessions for the conference. With the addition of Debra Wilson, Legal Counsel, NAIS, Centerbridge Architects with St. Andrew’s School, an amazing interactive workshop led by Crescerance, Sourcing Solutions, Paul Ibsen and more, we believe there is something for everyone – Business Officer, Head of School, Human Resources, Technology, Facilities, and anyone working at an independent school. We know that teams learn best together and strongly encourage you to bring a team from your school. Take a look at the full schedule here.
MISBO has learned through feedback from attendees that the content and programming is very important to your decision to attend. However, the opportunity to see friends and colleagues, meet new people, mingle with MISBO vendors, and relax just a bit are just as important. We will be starting the conference on Wednesday evening with a reception and a reprisal of Rock, Paper, Scissors from our 2015 Fall Conference. I know there are some finalists from last year who will be attending, so let’s see how well they can do in 2016. The Sonesta Resort is an amazing place; you may want to consider staying for the weekend. I am assured that October is the best time of year to be in Hilton Head, SC.
In MISBO’s spirit of innovation, we are also offering a new program this year. A one-day New Business Officer Workshop will be offered on Wednesday, October 5th. This program is designed for business officers who are relatively new to independent schools with less than five (5) years of experience. This pre-conference led by four MISBO board members will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about independent school culture as well as some specific sessions dealing with risk management, human resources, and technology – all geared just for independent school professionals. I hope if you are new to independent schools you will join us for this program in addition to the conference.
As you may have guessed I am excited about this conference. I am looking forward to working with this nationally acclaimed group of presenters and workshop leaders. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with good friends and making new ones. Please let me know if I can provide any additional information.
Executive Director, MISBO
We power independent schools.™
I hope you all enjoyed a long holiday weekend. The cycles of our schools continue. For most of us July marks the beginning of a new fiscal year, which means preparing for audits, along with all of the other summer work that must be accomplished. This is the same for MISBO – summer is different; not necessarily slower, but it does offer a change from the normal course of our school year. July 4, 2016 marked the 240th birthday of the United States of America. I had the opportunity last week to spend a day in Boston walking all of the Freedom Trail. While the US is relatively young, the history in Boston is amazing and a great reminder of the struggles that led to the creation of our nation.
I just read a Time magazine article entitled “The Bright Side” by David Von Drehle (more about David can be found here). David talks about the changes that were happening in our country at the beginning of the 20th century, including x-rays, automobiles, wireless communications, readily available electricity, and so much more. This was a time of great change in the way people lived, worked, traveled, etc. It was also a time of significant change for our educational institutions. It was the time of John Dewey, Maria Montessori, James Hawken and others who believed that as a society we needed new methods to educate our children. This is similar to what is happening today, both in terms of advances in technology and the need to carefully evaluate our educational practices. Children today need a different type of education than they did 100 years ago and perhaps even 10 years ago. Change is a constant. The pace of change is just accelerating.
During a recent conversation I had with Annette Diefenthaler, Portfolio Director, Education Studio, IDEO, we were discussing the educational transformation we are seeing in schools across the country. Annette commented that she believes that independent schools are well positioned to lead the change in education. Our schools are small (even the biggest) and should be able to be nimble, be innovative, experiment, and make decisions quickly. Our schools attract the best and brightest educators and we need to allow them to help lead the necessary changes. We also have resources that are not typically available for public schools and for many charter schools.
What is your school doing that’s new, creative, innovative for the new year? I would like to collect as many new ideas as possible and then share those with MISBO members. Please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designing Intelligent Schools is the theme for the 2016 MISBO Fall Conference to be held October 5-7, 2016 at the Sonesta Resort, Hilton Head Island, SC. We are experimenting with a new program this year with a one-day pre-conference – New Business Officer Workshop. We know that it can be just a bit challenging to start working at an independent school. Nearly every business officer at our schools come to their first school job from another profession. This one-day workshop led by a faculty of four MISBO Board Members is a terrific opportunity to learn from experienced professionals: business officers, an HR director and a Tech director. It is also a great opportunity to meet colleagues like you who are new to this profession. Then you will be able to attend the next two days of the fall conference meeting even more people and learning a variety of different and important topics that will impact your schools.
Thank you to the large number of you that sent me notes of support following the announcement by Julie Ray, MISBO Board Chair and me announcing my decision to look for the next chapter in my life. Many of you asked about my future plans. At this point, I do not have a plan. I believe that the appropriate opportunity will present itself in the right time. I have spent the past 15 years working with independent schools, first as a Business Manager, then at NBOA and now leading MISBO. This has been an extraordinary time of my life with great meaning and fulfillment. Starting in August MISBO Board Vice-Chair Philip Cork will organize the plan and process to hire a new Executive Director for MISBO. As I mentioned in the announcement, all is extremely well at MISBO, we continue to grow, serve more schools, provide more options through the Purchasing Consortium, bring you innovative and timely professional development opportunities and most importantly connect each of you with your colleagues. I look forward to this next year. We have much more to accomplish and I know that all of you will continue to benefit greatly from your membership with MISBO.
Executive Director, MISBO
We power independent schools.™
MISBO Vendor Praesidium recently sent us the content below to share with our member schools. The content is just too good to not share with everyone!
From Praesidium, Inc.:
Focusing On Parents In Managing School Social Media Risks
Does your school provide parents with information pertaining to social media use of their children? Most schools do not despite that offenders who prey on children have turned social media forms, such as texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, into their new “online” playground.
92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent of teens report being online “almost constantly.” Plus, research confirms that individuals find it easier to use sexualized language with the anonymity of texting or messaging than when communicating face-to-face with someone. And offenders are taking advantage of the sheer volume of children online and the ability to remain anonymous to victimize children.
Predators need three things in seeking victims:
- Access — It’s easy for predators to get access to children online—they know which sites children visit and how to start communications with them behind anonymous screennames.
- Privacy — Social media allows for immediate privacy.
- Control — By encouraging victims to break rules early on (like talking about sex or even messaging sexualized photos), predators can more easily initiate sexual contact.
This process is called grooming. Because sexualized language is used more quickly online, predators can gain privacy, groom victims and initiate sexual conversations much faster with text messages than they can face-to-face with victims. Plus, they have lower likelihood of getting caught than when they operate in public, around potential witnesses to their behaviors.
So how can schools keep students safe online? In addition to implementing policies and procedures regarding school employees’ electronic interactions with students, schools should also equip parents with the tools they need to protect their children online.
- Educate – Schools can educate parents about the dangers of social media. Parents should learn about the various forms of social media; how to effectively monitor their children’s profiles, apps, and text messages; and what grooming behavior looks like. Consider holding informational meetings for parents and including up-to-date social media information in the Parent Handbook as a resource, including how the school defines acceptable and unacceptable forms of electronic communications between school employees and students.
- Sample Family Guidelines – Encourage parents to include texting and social media habits in house rules, along with curfew and behavior expectations. Establish clear boundaries, including never giving out personal or identifying information, never agreeing to meet in-person someone they’ve met online, and identifying social media acceptable and unacceptable uses in the home (such as prohibited programs and acceptable hours for utilizing acceptable programs). Schools can assist parents by providing sample guidelines.
- Monitoring – Parents can better protect their children by monitoring social media profiles and texting history. Other steps, including having the computer in the living room rather than the bedroom, can help prevent the risk of abuse. At a minimum, encourage parents to check social media profiles and computer histories when children have exhibited risky online behavior in the past.
- Responding – If a parent does discover their child may be at risk of abuse through social media, they need to have the tools and knowledge to respond. Schools can help parents by creating resources for responding and talking to their children about possible dangers and how they can keep themselves safe from online predators.
By providing training workshops and information for parents regarding safe social media practices, your school helps keep your students safe and encourages your students to have healthy online interactions.
As we welcome in the summer of 2016, it is a great opportunity to take advantage of some extra reading time and let your mind wander. Below is a list of recent books I’ve found extremely eye-opening and hope it will help you develop new ideas and approaches. Enjoy!
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley & David Kelley
Change by Design by Tim Brown
How Stella Saved the Farm: A Tale about Making Innovation Happen by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
The Other Side of Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan
Decision: How to make better decisions by Chip and Dan Heath
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Born Digital: understand the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser
Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith
Executive Director, MISBO
We power independent schools.™
As I travel and visit schools and speak at various conferences, I meet people along the way and when they ask what I do, I talk about serving independent schools. This generally leads to a puzzled look and the next question – “is that the same as private schools?” I have a fairly well-rehearsed answer to this. I say that private schools charge tuition, so independent schools by that definition are private. The next part is most important – independent schools each have a unique mission and they are governed by an independent board of trustees.
Independent schools are non-profit private schools that are independent in philosophy: each is driven by a unique mission. They are also independent in the way they are managed and financed: each is governed by an independent board of trustees and each is primarily supported through tuition payments and charitable contributions. They are accountable to their communities and are accredited by state-approved accrediting bodies.
The overlap is very obvious. It may be time to take a closer look at some of this definition. The past decade has led to significant growth in ‘for-profit’ independent schools, such as Stratford Schools (CA), Alt Schools, and many more. These new entities are providing some new ways of looking at independent education as well as creating competition for many of our schools. I would agree that tuition is the financial driver for our schools. However, this is also clearly a cause for concern and possibly alarm as traditional independent schools continue to grapple with the concept of sustainability and, I would suggest, relevancy. Generative, strategic board leadership is essential for the future success of our schools.
Board leadership is also essential for the growth and success of MISBO. MISBO would like to welcome five new board members whose terms begin July 1, 2016. These new board members will bring valuable experience, insight, and knowledge to the MISBO board.
- Damian Kavanagh, Vice-President, Accreditation & Membership, SAIS, Atlanta, GA
- Ryan Kelly, Head of School, Carrollwood Day School, Tampa, FL
- Rob McArthur, Chief Financial Officer, Carolina Day School, Asheville, NC
- Laura Placio, Business Manager, John Burroughs School, St. Louis, MO
- Jeff Rountree, Director of Plant Operations, The Lovett School, Atlanta, GA
Additionally, we would like to thank the following people for their significant contributions to MISBO as their board terms expire:
- Jane Brown, Chief Financial Officer, Westminster Schools of Augusta, Augusta, GA
- Cliff Kling, President, Jackson Academy, Jackson, MS
- Bonnie Vavra, Chief Financial Officer, Davis Academy, Atlanta GA
- Steven Wennerstrom, Business Manager, Trinity Preparatory School of Florida, Winter Park, FL
Along with the returning board members, these four individuals have been instrumental in the transformation of MISBO and the MISBO board over the past five years. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work so closely with them.
In our continuing effort for MISBO to serve the whole school, we are offering a new program designed for all business office staff. We have just a couple open spaces for this conference which begins on Sunday, June 12th:
- June 12-14 is a new program which we believe will be incredibly valuable for your business office staff and your school. The Not-Just-the-Business Officer Intensive will be hosted by Woodward Academy, Atlanta, GA. This unique opportunity for everyone in the business office will provide both serious learning and wonderful networking opportunities. Space is limited!
Congratulations! You have wrapped up another school year. While the work continues for the summer, this is also a time for reflection, and relaxation.
Executive Director, MISBO
We power independent schools.™
As many of you are aware, most schools are no longer permitted to rent, purchase, or operate 15 passenger VANS. Many insurance companies will no longer insure 15 passenger VANS. There seems to be some confusion surrounding this issue, and we wanted to take a moment to clarify.
Schools ARE permitted to rent, purchase, and operate 15 passenger Multi-Function School Activity Buses (MFSAB). These buses meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for carrying students and children. These are the buses that schools are required to rent, specifically because they do meet all safety standards mandated by the federal government. BusMax, who has been serving schools for forty-years, has an entire fleet of Multi-Function Activity Buses available to schools, for school-term and longer-term rentals. In some cases BusMax can also offer daily rental options.
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