Summer — It’s Here

Did you see it? We shared big news yesterday. Beginning July 6th, we will be running a reduced volume of modified summer camps at TSS for rising 1st through 4th-grade students. If we compare this to our volume of students and programs we were supporting in summer 2019, it’s small. The small numbers don’t capture the number of ways this is a big step forward:

  • It is a return to our mission. Outside of our Mountain Academy graduations in the first half of June, this will be our first in-person programming since March 13th.
  • It demonstrates our ability to adapt and evolve our programming with constraints while staying true to our mission. In this, we can pilot operating and risk management systems this summer for larger student and staff volumes in the fall.
  • It is done with integrity — systems we can feel proud of to protect the health and safety of our students and staff.

Huge appreciation for Jordan Nobler, Joe Petrick, Jody Donovan, Selena Humphries, Kia Mosenthal, Nicola James, Chris Peterson, and others who made this come together!

With this programming, we are following our intended progression of a return to operations. As described in How the Puzzle Fits Together, we anticipate progressing from virtual learning to in-person day local programming to in-person day programming outside of the Tetons to residential programming and lastly large (>100 people) events. This progression will be dictated by evolving conditions locally, regionally, and nationwide and will span months.

In What’s Next for Enrollment and Student Recruitment? in December, you may remember our prioritization on improved sales/recruitment for the 80% of TSS revenue that comes through tuition and fees. At that time we announced the promotion of the recently vacated Senior Director of Marketing and Communications to the Executive Team. In early 2020 we began the selection process which paused March 13th with the suspension of all in-person learning.

Our needs to ensure a strong pipeline of students, schools, and partners at TSS hasn’t changed. Given the financial uncertainty of COVID, these needs are actually more important than ever. Last week the round one hiring committee (Selena Humphries, Ingrid Krasnow, and myself) resumed the selection process. The job description remains largely unchanged. The position will still sit on the TSS Executive Team. The position title has evolved to Chief Business Officer (CBO) to match the naming convention of all Exec Team roles.

But we laid off 26 valued staff in March? But we furloughed an additional 14 talented staff at the same time? But anticipated revenue for 2020–21 is down over $5 million. Yes, yes, and yes. The path back to a strong revenue pipeline and increasing our workforce to match enrollment need comes through investment in well-enrolled programs. We are hiring an existing position that was a priority this past winter and is even more important today.

Due to the operational and financial uncertainty of COVID, we postponed our standard delivery of a budget at the April Board meeting to the July meeting. Budget managers, Directors, Program Heads, and Executive Team members have been working hard planning for the fiscal year we started at the beginning of this month. While the numbers are not final and won’t become official until July, at a very high level this budget will likely include:

  • Around $9.9 million of revenue compared to just over $15 million of revenue in 2018–19 (our last complete fiscal year unaffected by COVID).
  • About $11.9 million of expense compared to about $14.4 million of expense in 2018–19.
  • We plan to use a combination of cash reserves and philanthropy to ensure the organization makes it through an unbalanced budget.

These numbers are not pretty. Moreso than in previous years, this budget is a guide and we will need staff to use creativity, act on good ideas, use good judgment, and be nimble to overachieve these numbers. Good leadership is not waiting to be told what to do but knowing where we are headed and exercising good judgment to make it happen. More than ever, there is an opportunity (and importance) for all positions across TSS to demonstrate leadership. We are all working in service of our mission towards the health and safety of our community, the financial integrity of TSS, stewarding our staff, and creating expanding learning opportunities as conditions change. How we achieve these is going to evolve based on conditions and the department we are in.

Lastly, Juneteenth is tomorrow. Celebrated annually on June 19th, it commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal orders were read in Texas that all previously enslaved people were free (nearly 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation). As a White person, I plan to watch Vaunda Micheaux Nelson read her children’s book about Juneteenth on Instagram @theconciouskid. I plan to educate myself on intersectional environmentalism on a new platform launched Monday specifically in the Ally resources and the Black resources. I encourage our White staff to take some time tomorrow to learn more about anti-racism and/or Juneteenth.

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