Opening Minds to Closing the Funding Gap: Financial Sustainability in Our Schools, Paul Patterson
In previous generations WELS Lutheran elementary schools operated with low (or even no) tuition. Today, that has become challenging, for multiple reasons. First, the cost of education has risen. In 2002, WELS adopted compensation guidelines to catch called workers’ wages up to inflation. Add in the rising cost of health insurance, liability insurance, and facility maintenance. Second, in some of our schools, as membership declined so did enrollment. Economy of scale was lost, further driving up per pupil cost. In many congregations, the percent of total offerings that is used to subsidize the school has grown exponentially. This raises an important question. Is this sustainable? If a congregation does not have a long-term financial sustainability plan, how does that risk the ministry of Lutheran elementary education?
In this presentation we will explore some best practices for addressing the financial sustainability of your WELS school. Participants will identify paradigms to overcome the challenges, discuss change management theory, and investigate sound financial strategies for education. Participants will leave this sectional with a plan of action to become the best possible stewards of the resources God has provided so that their school can thrive.
Paul Patterson serves as the Associate Director for WELS Lutheran Schools and the Executive Director of WELS School Accreditation. In the past, he has served as a teacher and principal in a rural, a suburban, and an urban WELS school. He graduated from Dr. Martin Luther College, received his teaching license through Wisconsin Lutheran College, earned a master of education degree from Cardinal Stritch University, and completed the Business Certificate for School Leaders from Milwaukee School of Engineering.