You may recognize the title of this article as a song from The Rolling Stones.  And you may think it pertains to your school.  However, it applies to parents of prospective students of your school. To put it another way, to increase enrollment at your school, you need to create demand for your school’s services.

If we’re struggling to fill every desk, parents realize this. Parents know there is room for their child, so there is no hurry to fill out financial aid forms, re-enroll their children, etc. They know there will “ALWAYS” be room for their child, because their child is, well, “their child.”

This happens until a school says (or better yet, a parent says), “They’re wait-listed.” All of a sudden, the landscape changes. Why? Because people want what they can’t have.  If you don’t believe that, then ask a parent if they’d rather have their child in a classroom environment that’s been deep cleaned and sanitized regularly, is social distancing enabled, and procedures have been put in place to ensure health-mindful practices (like not sharing writing instruments and not sending children to school when sick), or if they’d rather have the entire school year as the last three months of this school year has been conducted.

When physical class size is limited, a waiting list just for one grade creates a demand for the other grades. The key is knowing when it’s financially prudent to open another classroom, especially with today’s necessary guidelines to protect public health.

For instance, if a class has 20 students paying an average of $2500 each, the net income from that class is $50,000. Hiring a teacher at $30,000 plus $15,000 worth of benefits $15,000 profit. Yes – you need to think like a business. If you’re not doing it, get started.  Remember – schools rarely close for having poor curriculum or non-caring communities.  If it’s “a business decision” caused by rising costs, declining enrollment and escalating debt that closes the school, start looking at the “business” reasons that keep a school open.

If 6 more students come into the class, and another teacher is hired to make 13 students in each class, the school will have $32,500 of income per classroom. If both teachers are paid $30,000 with $15,000 in benefits, a net LOSS of $25,000 is the consequence. Yes, you’ve increased enrollment (one step forward), but you’re further “in the hole” (two steps back). If 16 more students are in a classroom before a new teacher is hired, that would make 36 children are in the grade level. Hiring another teacher for two classrooms of 18 makes you “break even” for that grade…but there’s no “cushion” as there would be for just one classroom of 20 students.

Therefore, in the example, if you set a maximum class size at 20, only when there are more than 16 additional children on the waiting list should another teacher be hired and another classroom opened to help to cover expenses and contribute to a positive cash flow for the school.

P.S. – If you look at the copyright date below, you’ll see the original posting date of this article.  The first article that spoke to this issue was published 15 years ago…and there are still schools shrinking, merging and closing.  If your school is thriving because of some of the information you’ve received here, please consider dropping an email to schooladvancement@gmail.com so your comments can be published.  Just as students talk with students and parents talk with parents, school leaders talk with school leaders.  It’s how communities are built.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2005-2020 (Original Publication Date: 20050620)