By The Hon. Jeb Boasberg ’81, Chair, Governing Board
Because school boards spend much of their time in the theoretical world of conceiving strategies, formulating policies, and stewarding finances, they do not often get to see hard and tangible evidence of their work. The 2015-16 academic year was a clear exception, as the Governing Board had a front-row seat at the opening of the new athletic fields. Although the current board reaped the glory of the completion of the fields, this substantial achievement is a testament to my predecessors as chairs and to the successive Buildings and Grounds Committees, most recently led by Brian Coulter and Sevag Balian ’83. Capital Projects Director Mike Carline’s day-to-day supervision was exacting, and the product is all we could have hoped for. The school has raised 92% of the $20 million total required for the project and hopes to complete the funding imminently behind the leadership of Development Comittee Chair Rob Carter '80, Associate Headmaster Dan Jamieson, and their development team. The board also thanks the whole community, whose patience during the construction—and the busing to practices and the lack of home games—was exemplary. We now have a facility that can accommodate more boys playing more sports on more days in more kinds of weather than we ever could in the past. This has been our proudest accomplishment of the year.
Yet there were also other areas in which the board spent much of its time this past year. Here are some of the highlights:
Following our articulated priority of sustainability, the board continued to maintain moderate tuition increases. In 2016-17, for the sixth year in a row, tuition remains under 4%. Although it is not easy to balance this goal of restricting tuition increases with the need for appropriate rises in faculty salaries and benefits, new initiatives, financial aid, and physical-plant maintenance and improvements, the board believes it has struck the appropriate balance. It will remain vigilant in weighing these priorities as it considers budgets in succeeding years. We are incredibly fortunate to have Chris Gladstone ’75 as the chair of our Finance Committee and Greg Parker as the school’s director of Finance and Business Operations. Few people understand the nuances of a budget as well as they do and care as deeply about maintaining the school on a stable financial footing.
The STRIVE campaign, furthermore, has now raised $35.4 million of our $50 million goal. The fields complete, the development team will now turn to building our endowment, funding new initiatives, and continuing to sustain Annual Giving, which constitutes the $14.6 million balance of the campaign.
Three other issues merited extensive discussion at the board this year, and they will be on the agenda next year as well. First, we continue to look for alternative sources of revenue. An ad hoc committee led by Michael Duffy explored assorted options, including increasing summer programs (particularly for international students), master classes, and the consolidation of book, clothing, and concession offerings. Second, an ad hoc committee led by Mary Crawford assessed faculty and staff salaries, which are the greatest driver in our budget. While the board believes that the school should continue to offer attractive compensation, we want to better understand what benefits are particularly desirable to faculty and which are not, and also to ensure that our compensation structure compares appropriately to other competitor schools. Finally, international opportunities remain a focus. Although boys have many choices for spending time abroad—e.g., through fellowships, school exchanges, and travel with groups—we continue to weigh possibilities of partnering with, or even opening, a school abroad. We have been approached on several occasions by different entities in different countries; as a result, we want to know what the most appealing features of such an arrangement would be and whether this would be a route the school should consider traveling.
BOARD MEMBERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP
As is true every year, the composition of the Governing Board will change in 2016-17. We greatly regret losing some integral at-large members whose contributions over their six-year terms have been indispensable. Michael Duffy, Mark Johnson ’91, and Jun Makihara ’75 have chaired committees, offered strategic vision, and asked difficult questions. They personify the attributes you seek in board members. Other ex officio members have also served honorably: Blake Sparrow as chair of Annual Giving, Michael Caskin as president of the Alumni Association, Dave Schauer as president of the Parents’ Association, and Brian O’Malley as Lower School representative. We are simultaneously pleased to welcome David Marriott ’92, Irasema Salcido, and Richard Parrino as new at-large members. Also joining us will be Althea Harlin as president of the Parents’ Association, Brendan Sullivan ’93 as Alumni Association president, Patrick Bracewell ’98 as chair of Annual Giving, and Martin MacIntyre ’05 as Lower School representative. Finally, as my term on the board closes, Dr. Maria Donoghue Velleca will become the new chair, flanked by Robert Musslewhite as vice-chair and Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper as secretary. This is a very talented team indeed.
I have always viewed my chairmanship as a sort of egg race, in which I have hoped only to hand the egg over to my successor without having dropped it and watched the yolk spill out. Yet, it turns out that my egg was not fragile and liable to crack at all. In fact, despite my multiple drops and fumbles, the egg never so much as endured the smallest fissure because, thanks to the efforts of all who have taught and studied here, the egg is constructed now of reinforced steel. My close association with our Headmaster Vance Wilson has only increased my respect for how much he does for all of us in the St. Albans community. And acting Headmaster David Baad ’83 ably assumed Vance’s mantle during his sabbatical this past fall.
Finally, I offer my thanks to all of you who belong to the St. Albans family, be you student, alumnus, family member, faculty, administration, or staff. Our cohesion as a community and our sincere care for each other make this school unique. I am very grateful for my affiliation with all of you and the opportunity to have served as board chair.