Back to School Preparation for School Administrators

Back to School Prep: School Admin Edition

As you enjoy the sunshine and your summer break, it might seem like the school year only just ended. But as a school administrator, you don’t actually get much of a break. Before you know it, the start of a new school year will be knocking at your door, which is why you need to think ahead, prepare, and be ready for the upcoming academic year. Principals and school administrators are charged with parsing through information about changing procedures, toggling expectations from various stakeholders, and incorporating this information in planning for the school. You’re responsible for laying down a framework of operation that addresses the needs of the students, teachers, families, and staff within your school community.

Without the right resources, it’s easy to lose track of all that you’ll need to do. Use this guide as a basic framework for things you need to consider and tasks you’ll need to complete as you prepare for the return to school.

Consider Changes

Changes you’ll need to think about for the new school year might either come from external entities, like the federal government, your state, and your school district, while other changes you’ll make will be driven by internal stakeholders.

  • Monitor how federal, state, and local regulations are continuing to evolve in regard to COVID-19.
  • With so many changes happening in the learning environment in recent years, think about how you can continue to support your school community or local government to collectively adapt and respond to these changes as they happen.
  • Think about your management of employees as we continue to transition to a post-pandemic world. You might have to manage employment related matters and claims related to vaccine mandates and long COVID.
  • Review your school safety plan and determine if you’ll need to make changes to procedures for emergencies, such as natural disasters or intruder drills. Update this plan according to recommendations set forth by public health officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Assess your school’s policies regarding campus visitors and make sure they’re aligned with the school’s safety plan.
  • If your school has partnerships with community organizations or wants to partner with new organizations, investigate the logistical steps you’ll need to take to foster these partnerships.
  • Think about the goals you want to achieve with existing or potential partnerships. If you plan to continue an existing relationship, determine what (if anything) should change.
  • Take stock of policies for extracurricular activities and school sponsored events, and make adjustments, as needed.
  • Identify ways to optimize professional development opportunities for teachers and staff.
  • Revisit how you can best support teachers as they plan their curriculums and make changes to best support student learning in the upcoming academic year.
  • If you’ve received feedback from teachers, parents, students, or staff a how to make improvements in different aspects of your school’s operations, try to implement changes to meet their needs. Practice diplomacy and apply practicality while balancing divergent viewpoints.

Develop and Roll Out a Communication Strategy

Balancing the needs of diverse stakeholders means that you’ll need to communicate any pertinent information before and throughout the school year in a clear, effective, and timely manner. You’ll likely need to make adjustments in your communication depending on the type of information you’re sharing and the stakeholders with whom you’re sharing that information.

  • Communication takes many shapes and forms, whether it’s written, visual, virtual, or in person. You’ll need to have a pulse on what works best for different stakeholders and have a tailored communication strategy for each of these groups.
  • Identify how you’ve shared information in the past and take stock of what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved.
  • Consider if you’ll need to translate any communication to different languages based on your school’s needs or make adjustments for special needs individuals.
  • If you have an online presence via social media or a website, think about how you can leverage these resources to share information with your school community. If your school has a website, make sure it meets accessibility standards and that it’s easy for people to find how to contact the school.
  • Find ways to gather feedback from teachers, students, families, and staff about their respective experiences so the upcoming school year is a more positive experience than the previous year.
  • If there are any changes in how the school operates or paperwork that you’ll need to collect, share this information with those who will be affected in a timely and clear manner.
  • Plan and implement any necessary staff trainings. This includes training on protocols, sexual harassment, and school safety.

Collaborate with Stakeholders

You have a lot of items to check off on your back-to-school checklist, and in order to complete these tasks and be ready for the academic year, you’ll need to collaborate with your stakeholders.

  • Consider how decisions are made at your school and how you can involve different groups, such as students, families, teachers, and staff.
  • How do school administrators, teachers, and campus staff work together for the benefit of the student body?
  • Find ways to work with different on-campus teams to set goals and define success metrics for teamwork that you can track as the school year progresses.
  • Have a structure for teachers to give each other feedback about their teaching plans and instruction style.
  • Develop a plan to track students’ learning progress and spaces for teachers to exchange ideas about tactics that are working as well as areas in which they need help.
  • Work with parents to improve student learning outcomes and make sure you plan for parent-teacher conferences during the school year.
  • Ensure you have a record keeping system in place that allows you to easily access and track information that you might need to share with teachers, staff, students, and families. Keeping records in order also helps you in the event you have to deal with a claim.
  • Collaborate with community organizations that can provide resources to your school and improve students’ learning and overall experience on campus.

Take Care of Housekeeping

An important part of being ready for a new school year is making sure that buildings are clean and you have supplies available so teachers can best do their jobs and students are in an environment where they’re safely able to learn.

  • Arrange for the summer cleaning and maintenance process. Make sure that these tasks get completed in time.
  • Inspect campus grounds and buildings to make sure they’re in good shape and free from mold and pollution. Schedule any repairs that need to be made.
  • Order school supplies so they arrive in time for teachers to use in their classrooms.
  • Review your risk management approach and insurance policies with your broker to make sure that they’re aligned with the evolving needs of your campus.

School administrators have a lot to think about and do to prepare for a new school year. The burden of responsibility that comes with being entrusted to operate a safe learning environment for all school community members isn’t easy to carry, which is why it’s important to stay one step ahead, think strategically, and act collaboratively.

With so many competing priorities, thinking about a risk mitigation strategy might not be top of mind, but failure to do so can have devastating consequences. Our dedicated Education team has the resources and expertise to help you manage your school’s risks as they evolve.

Contact us today to learn how we can work together to create a holistic risk management plan.

DISCLAIMER

 

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.

2023’s Must-Have Employer’s Checklist for Open Enrollment

It’s almost that time of year again: open enrollment season.

Whether your company conducts open enrollment for health insurance benefits in September or December, now’s the time to start planning for a stress-free experience for both you and your employees.

For 2023, rising inflation is spurring a number of changes that you’ll likely have to deal with or consider, and you’ll have to communicate with employees about it. Potential changes include:

  • Increased contribution limits for health savings accounts
  • Higher minimum deductibles for high deductible health plans (HDHP)
  • Higher maximum amounts for out-of-pocket expenses for HDDPs

So where should you start? How can you stay on track? What can you do to ensure a complete and successful process? Experts suggest several practical steps to help you manage your timeline for planning and implementing your open enrollment process.

Use the following multi-point checklist as a guide:

business team working

PRE-PLANNING PHASE

Reflect on last year’s open enrollment campaign. Understand what went right, what could have gone better and, which, if any, process improvements you would like to make this year.

Review overall company goals with leadership for coming year. Confirm (or adjust) your benefits strategy to align with it.

Determine overall changes that may impact your 2023 benefits budget. This includes major shifts in your workforce and possible mergers and acquisitions, as well as new office locations that could impact or pose challenges for how you communicate key dates and activities or how you execute your open enrollment process this year.

PLANNING PHASE

 3+ MONTHS BEFORE YOUR OPEN ENROLLMENT DEADLINE

Survey various levels of your organization. Given that benefits are playing a very significant role in attracting and retaining talent, you may want to find out how satisfied employees are with your current healthcare options. Include questions that can probe for overall satisfaction with your offerings, carriers, and provider networks.

Analyze survey results and decide on action plan for addressing feedback.

­­Collect and compare benefits data from similar companies in your industry. Gauge your own company’s performance and look for potential opportunities to enhance your program.

Figure out how many employees are eligible for your benefits.

Coordinate, or work with your TPA to manage COBRA requirements for employees who experienced a qualifying event (e.g., job termination) during the year.

Communicate key dates for open enrollment with insurers and benefit providers so they can share information on their programs that you may need to pass on to your employees. Also, notify internal stakeholders, like payroll staff or finance department so they have ample time to prepare for their role in the process as well.

2+ MONTHS BEFORE

Evaluate health plans and renewal packages. Meet with your broker to review usage rates for current plans and discuss any new benefits you may want to offer such as telemedicine, fertility, FSA, and wellness programs. Compare details and pricing from your current carrier and other carriers on the market.

Review current HIPPAA, ACA, and other regulations so you can understand how any changes may impact benefit offerings to your employees.

Make 2023 benefits selections for your program.

2 MONTHS BEFORE

Work with your team to review the options prepared by you and your benefits broker and finalize selections. See what type of information and decision-making tools (e.g., info booklets, calculators, etc.) your broker can provide that can help employees during open enrollment.

Assign a main point of contact to handle any and all employee benefits questions during open enrollment.

Inform employees when your 2023 open enrollment period will begin. Include key dates for major activities they won’t want to miss, such as virtual events and onsite meetings.

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE

APPROXIMATELY 1+ MONTH BEFORE YOUR OPEN ENROLLMENT DEADLINE 

Roll out official employee communications program announcing the open enrollment period for 2023 benefits and share details. Use a variety of distribution channels, including emails, intranet, Teams, or Zoom to reach all employees.

As part of this effort: 

  • Update corporate calendar with important dates, events, and deadlines
  • Summarize changes to your existing plan options and update pricing
  • Announce any new offerings or programs
  • Remind employees that any life changes and health needs, such as major medical procedures, and dental work are variables they should consider when picking benefits
  • Provide descriptions and materials for plan options

Schedule temporary employees to help with added workload during open enrollment period. 

1 MONTH BEFORE

Begin sign up. Monitor activity with employees to ensure they elect or decline benefits before the deadline.

Communicate with employees about support hours, points of contact, and shared resources for getting answers to questions throughout the entire period.

Remind employees of due dates so they don’t forget to enroll.

Verify individual benefit selections, check for errors, and reach out to employees for corrections prior to submitting final forms.

2-3 WEEKS BEFORE

Submit approved selections along with the group application to benefit providers and health insurers.

Address any issues from your broker or benefits providers.

Follow up until everything is approved.

Managing your benefits strategy is pivotal in attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive hiring market. Connect with our benefits team to learn how we can help you build the right program of offerings that differentiates you from the competition. Our team is here to provide the ongoing support and expert guidance you need to prepare for open enrollment.

Contact our Employee Benefits team.

business team working

DISCLAIMER

 

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and was generated from information provided to BKS from the client and/or third-party sources. Therefore, BKS makes no warranty or representation(s) as to the accuracy or appropriateness of the data and/or the analysis herein. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your tax, legal and accounting advisors for those services.

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