The Hilltop Board of Trustees met for its first Board meeting of the school year this week, via Zoom. Even though we are still meeting remotely, there was an air of community and a genuine celebration knowing children and teachers are back in school. While 2020 has been full of challenges, thanks to the hard work of the Hilltop administration and staff, we are open for business and building community in person!
The Board spent a significant amount of time delving into the finances of the school, both to orient new Trustees and to explore how our school’s response to COVID has changed the budget the Board approved last January, before so much changed in our world and at our school. Specific changes that impact the budget are:
- Intentionally lower enrollment in the Elementary programs in order to stay within the 25 person pod size
- Adding an Educational Technology Coordinator position to help support preparation for Learning from Home should that be necessary again
- Increasing the role of the Equity, Justice, and Inclusion responsibilities from 1/10 time to ½ time, and from “Coordinator” to “Director”
- Adding more full time staff to assist in the classrooms as COVID Assistants, addressing the increased health and safety protocols of our programs
- Additional cleaning staff hours and equipment to address increased sanitization requirements
- Additional “supplies” costs to address PPE, new classroom arrangements, additional technology needs, and multiple physical plant upgrades, changes, and investments
- Additional support to families impacted financially by the pandemic through our COVID Hardship Request Program.
Amazingly, through careful financial management by Hilltop’s administration (as well as the securing of funds via the Paycheck Protection Program and state grants for facilities upgrades) we are able to offer $66,000 more in support to families via indexed tuition and hardship requests, increase payroll expenses by over $110,000, and still not have to increase the already budgeted endowment draw which we had planned! This is remarkable, and is a testament to the skills and hard work of Tamara, the Admin Team, and the Finance Committee. We feel fortunate to have their skills in service of the school!
The Board also spent some time discussing a revision of our diversity statement so that Hilltop’s strengthening commitment to equity, anti-bias, and inclusion are appropriately and formally articulated. Board Committees shared the results of their first meetings of the year, and we agreed to begin thinking beyond the end of our current Strategic Plan in 2021. We all have been extraordinarily challenged this year to practice resilience in the wake of massive changes.The hard work that administration, teachers, and families have done to hold our community together seems to be turning change into growth and a strengthened collective spirit, for which we are so grateful! As we adapt and move forward, we welcome your questions and input, and invite you to work with us in continuing to evolve this school we all love.
Stay in touch,
The Leadership Team
Alix, Asher, and Ellie