Former board member Rich Wolfe died suddenly on February 12th of heart complications. Administrators, teachers, alum, and past and present Board members have been devastated by the shocking news of this loss. He was a proud parent to Middle Student Greta/Grex and served on the Board for four years, including in the roles of Treasurer, In-Coming Board Chair, Board Chair, Outgoing Board Chair and as a mentor to new Trustees. Rich was a lively and engaged Trustee, and his work has had a lasting positive impact on our school. The two changes initiated by Rich most visible to staff and families are staff benefits and Indexed Tuition.
Staff Benefits – Rich joined the board in 2014 with the goal of improving the staff benefits for the teachers. He had a deep appreciation for the education and care that they gave his child in the Middle School and all students across all programs. As part of his Board role, he interviewed interested staff and gathered input on what benefits would be most valued by a majority of staff. His work identified increasing the school’s retirement fund matching program and short term disability insurance as benefits that all staff could partake of equally (while tuition remission or health care coverage only impacted the portion of staff who could use those). Rich also wanted to have benefits encourage and reward longevity, so he made two proposals that would be available to staff after a year of employment with HMS:
- Increasing the employer matching amount to the retirement fund up from 2% to 3% of an employee’s salary, and
- Adding short term disability insurance to cover any staff person (who had worked for the school for more than a year), providing paid medical leave for up to 12 months.
Our staff have greatly valued these benefits provided by HMS. More than 90% of the staff participate in the retirement fund and receive an automatic 3% raise of sorts as they enter their second year of employment at Hilltop. Additionally, we have had several staff over the years needing to be out on medical leave and greatly appreciate the short term disability insurance, which provides reassurance to all staff.
Indexed Tuition – Rich’s thoughts and discussions around our “financial aid” program led to our complete restructuring of the program into the Indexed Tuition program as it is known today. Rich had significant conversations with current and prospective parents who were unclear about how our school supported a breadth of economic diversity. He heard that families mistakenly thought that they would need to show great economic need in order to receive any discount in tuition. Yet, in actuality, we provided a range of family contribution amounts for our tuition. Reframing Hilltop’s program as Indexed Tuition, and pairing it with the state and school funding that was available to help offset the amount needed from families, has been a game changer in terms of how we present our tuition structure. The current Indexed Tuition program, inspired by Rich Wolfe, has enabled us to better support a wider range of economic diversity at HMS.
These are just two concrete examples of how Rich’s enthusiasm, energy, financial acumen, and thoughtfulness impacted our school. While many across the country and the globe (as Rich had many friends and family in all parts of the world) mourn his loss and share in the sorrow of not seeing him again, we also celebrate the impact he had on us and the zest he had for life, friendships, and his warm smile.