The Jubilee School is a small private school in West Philadelphia that offers students from families of limited means a high-quality education with a curriculum focused on the strengths of children as individuals and as members of a community with a rich history and culture. Although the School has been in continuous operation for nearly four decades, both staff and Board leadership recently became concerned about the School's long-term sustainability, and therefore in 2014 the School retained WolfBrown to author a plan for sustainable expansion. The plan was organized into two sections: the first analyzed the School's current operations, while the second section outlined a plan for expanding the School's enrollment.

The analysis of the School's current operations revealed that leadership's concerns about long-term sustainability were valid: a steady-state analysis demonstrated not only that the School was running a deficit for the 2014 fiscal year, but that this deficit was projected to increase each year through FY 2020. These deficits were not attributable to expenses. School staff earned considerably less than their area counterparts with similar levels of education and experience. Instead, our analyses indicated that the School did not generate sufficient revenues, and that at the root of this problem lay the School's teacher-to-student ratios.

With 64 students and 9 teachers, the School had a student-to-teacher ratio of approximately 7 to 1. To put this ratio in perspective, the Philadelphia School District has a student-to-teacher ratio of 17:1 (though in many classrooms the ratio approaches 35:1), while Friends Select School of Philadelphia has a ratio of 10:1 and charges four to six times Jubilee's tuition depending on a child's grade. We therefore recommended a gradual increase in the School's enrollment, with a concomitant increase in teacher-to-student ratios to 12:1 by FY 2020. Enrollment growth was designed to begin in the younger grades, capitalizing on the School's impressive record of retaining students and thereby providing a reliable supply of older students for the future who are already familiar with the Jubilee's culture and ethos.

Although the initial stages of this growth could be accommodated in the School's current space, ultimately the School must move to a new home. To aid in the process of finding a new home for the School, we assisted in the creation and designed guidelines for implementing a brief rubric that could be used to evaluate new locations according to a set of criteria that the Board agreed were the most important features for the School's new location. While the prospect of relocation is daunting for any organization, by the conclusion of the process both staff and Board leadership were confident that the School had many more decades of serving students ahead of it.

Consultant: Steven Holochwost
Year complete: 2015