School Finance 602: Back to School Updates

School Finance 602: Back to School Updates

As we come to the end of our fourth week of school, we hope that all students are well on their way to making new friends, settling into routines, and becoming comfortable in classes, divisions, and activities. We are pleased to give parents an update about enrollment numbers, new staff and summer facilities projects. We hope you enjoy reading about our strong start to the 2016-17 academic year.

Enrollment targets met for start of school year

We are pleased to report that we achieved our total enrollment target for mid-August, with 3,938 enrolled students. We welcomed 843 newly accepted students, who joined our 3,095 returning students. We have a net of 14 openings school-wide, and carry a healthy waitlist of 256 applicants. Apart from one bumper year, this waitlist is on par or greater than mid-August waitlists over the past five years. The early learning center, elementary, middle school, and high school grades have reached capacity with strong applicants. High school enrollment is closed for the semester, while other grades' enrollments remain rolling as families come and go. Bus operator Yeap Transport reports that 135 buses pick up over 3,145 SAS students each day from 700 locations. An estimated 435 neighborhood children walk, bike, or scooter to school.

New teachers join SAS veterans

In addition to our new students, we also welcomed 37 new faculty members to the school. Our new teachers come mainly from the US, with 80 percent being American citizens; others hold passports from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, China and the Philippines. Around 35 percent come to us from US schools, while 65 percent were previously working at other international schools. Seventy-eight percent have taught for six or more years, and nearly three-quarters have earned master's as well as bachelor's degrees. In addition to new teachers, the school also welcomed one new administrator to Singapore.

Facilities team spends summer completing campus projects

The SAS facilities team worked closely with contracted companies to keep each of our 99 summer projects to strict deadlines, quality control, and safety standards. They also ensured as little disruption as possible for our Summer Semester program, whose numbers jumped by 40 percent to 350 students. Facilities Director Anthony Wong credits constant supervision and clear communication as keys to the successful completion of all projects on time, despite some late-evening finishes as deadlines loomed.

The biggest learning environment project was the renovation of the pre-kindergarten spaces in the early learning center (ELC, formerly the ECC) to complement the 2015 renovation of the preschool area. Inspired by the early childhood philosophy out of Reggio Emilia in Italy, our program emphasizes curiosity, exploration, and creativity. Learning now takes place in beautiful, modern spaces that stimulate and inspire our students. We are excited to see our research and development process come to fruition, as the ELC's physical surroundings now fully support our program priorities for our youngest learners. Please read the complete description of the ELC's Reggio Emilia approach in the upcoming issue of Journeys.

The new high school Quest room also called for creative thinking. Seniors in this year-long program will take interdisciplinary and online courses and complete work individually and collaboratively, so the space had to be flexible as well as inspiring. Large glass windows, counter seating, couches, diner booths, and two small-group workrooms fulfilled these requirements. "Project coordinator Jean To and project manager Francis Ang worked closely with us to create a classroom that admirably meets our program needs and is a pleasure to work in," writes Quest advisor Simon Bright. "Thanks to the facilities team for creating this highly functional learning space!"

Elementary school parents visiting divisional administrators will have noticed another major renovation, as the elementary school offices were completely redesigned over the summer. Now all K-5 administrators and assistants are located along the same corridor, which stretches between the two elementary school foyers. This final step in the physical consolidation of the old primary and intermediate divisions has resulted in an attractive, harmonious environment that retains some favorite highlights, such as the enormous fish tank that has delighted youngsters for years. Elementary School Principal David Hoss notes that already the administrators are reaping benefits in enhanced team spirit and efficiency. This project also included moving the nurses, counselors, and EAA staff to purpose-designed spaces across from the Lunch Bunch room.

In addition to these projects, students now enjoy increased instructional space in the high school Center of Innovation; new furniture in 20 middle school classrooms; improved elementary school basketball courts and bike shelters; a collapsible safety barrier for early learning center tricycle riders; and more comfortable LED lighting in many classrooms. Less obvious but equally important are upgrades to washrooms, floors, and elements of our air conditioning, electrical, IT, and security systems. We congratulate our facilities staff on completing this challenging program of summer projects with no serious workplace accidents.

Thanks to all who have made possible the smooth start of the 2016-17 school year. As always, we appreciate any comments, questions, and suggestions for future articles; please send them to wscarborough@sas.edu.sg. We look forward to hearing from you.