School Finance 521: 2016 Summer Comings and Goings

School Finance 521: 2016 Summer Comings and Goings

As we reach the end of another year, we thank you for reading our school finance articles. We hope that giving our large, diverse community regular updates about the school's financial decisions helps to promote parents' understanding and support of school policies. The school finance series will continue next year, and your questions and topic suggestions are always welcome at wscarborough@sas.edu.sg. In our final 2015-16 article, we give a summary of our most recent figures regarding withdrawals and re-enrollments, applications and acceptances, student body demographics, and teacher turnover.

As is usual in international schools, the end of the year means bidding farewell to many friends and colleagues. The admissions office informs us that, to date, 744 current students will not be returning in August, including our 273 departing seniors. At around 19 percent of our student body, this number is comparable to last year's withdrawal rate and somewhat higher than our usual rate of around 15 percent. This is likely a result of the continued slowdown in the oil and gas sector and its effect on other industries such as finance and manufacturing. At 3,182, our current re-enrollment number is very similar to last year's at this time, showing healthy retention.

Meanwhile, application numbers remain strong as SAS continues to be among the most sought-after foreign system schools in Singapore. The director of admissions reports that we have offered places to 749 applicants, compared with 790 at this time last year and 712 in May 2014. We can be particularly proud that 30 pecent of our applicants come from other schools in Singapore, while only 9 percent of withdrawing students plan on-island transfers. We believe this disparity demonstrates that SAS has a strong reputation among families already experienced in the international school scene here, as well as among families moving to this country. The highest numbers of on-island applicants come from SAIS, followed by CIS, OFS, GIIS, UWC, and others.

The increasing number of foreign system school seats in Singapore gives parents more choices, and we are keeping a careful eye on trends in this area. We are adjusting grade-level capacities to meet demand, as well as to allow a more natural capacity increase from the ECC through grade two. Specifically, for 2016-17 we will add one class each in preschool, pre-kindergarten, and grade five, and subtract one class each in kindergarten and grade one. We are happy to report that we anticipate continued full-capacity operation even as other schools struggle to fill spots. We thank all those parents who pass on positive personal testimonials about SAS, as we know that your word-of-mouth recommendations are among our most powerful recruiting tools.

It is interesting to note that we are in a period of demographic shift in applicants, as our student body becomes slightly less American. 70 percent of withdrawing students are American, compared with 53 perent of accepted applicants, while interest remains strong among non-American families and appears to be increasing among Indian, Singaporean, and Chinese families. We are also seeing higher numbers of English-language learner applicants. We carefully consider each application, with two goals in mind: firstly, we want to accept students likely to flourish here, and secondly, we want to create a student body that reflects our mission of providing an exemplary American educational experience with an international perspective. We note that the percentage of American students at SAS has fluctuated before as economic trends have affected Singapore's foreign workforce.

Turning to faculty comings and goings, this summer thirty-six teachers and one administrator will leave SAS. With 378 faculty members on staff, this represents a turnover rate of just under 10 percent, which falls within our normal range and compares favorably with other international schools' numbers. From what we know of their plans, around three-quarters of our departing teachers are moving back to their home countries, with others going to new adventures in Asia, Europe, and South America. We thank all of them for their years of service to SAS.

To those in our community who are moving on, we wish you rewarding opportunities and easy adjustments in your new locations. We are excited to welcome our new families during orientation week, and to see the whole 2016-17 SAS community at open house on Friday, August 5 and on the first day of school on Wednesday, August 10. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer break.