Finance at SAS 910: 2020 Summer Projects and Community Comings and Goings

As our school year comes to an end, we thank you for reading our Finance at SAS articles. This series is intended to promote clarity around the school's financial and operational decisions within our large, diverse parent community. We will continue the Finance at SAS series next year, and your questions and topic suggestions are always welcome. In our final 2019–20 article, we share information about our summer campus projects and about who is leaving and who is joining the SAS community over the summer.

Summer Works Projects

Usually, summer is the busiest time of year for our facilities team, but this year we will have a much quieter summer in terms of campus projects. Because of the coronavirus, construction staff (both local and Malaysian) cannot conduct any site investigations before June 2 and may not be available even after this date. Critical materials may also arrive late or not at all; new rules have affected our planning; and government permitting processes have slowed. For these reasons, we have been forced to delay most of our previously planned summer projects and will proceed only with those most feasible and necessary to support academic programming. These projects will be carried out by our own facilities team together with competitively selected external contractors.

The following projects have been deemed both essential and achievable. These projects mainly entail limited construction (removal of walls, touch-up of ceilings) and the procurement of new furniture and equipment (which we realize may arrive later than expected):

  • Elementary school Chinese immersion classroom conversion, to support our immersion program's expansion into third grade
  • Elementary school relocation of speech rooms
  • Middle school world language community classroom expansion, to accommodate growth in our Spanish program
  • High school pathfinder project for our math, science, and learning support programs
  • Auditorium rigging and communications systems work
  • Installation of equipment orders in music, science, and makerspace classrooms
  • External facade washing

We will reassess our plans as the circuit breaker measures come to an end and construction activity is able to resume on a more normal basis, and we will endeavor to carry out works that have been delayed when they are feasible and appropriate.

Student Comings and Goings

The end of the year at an international school always includes farewells to a number of friends and classmates. The admissions office informs us that as of mid-May, 529 current students will be moving on, including our 296 graduating seniors. Representing 13% of our student body, this is lower than recent years' rates. Our re-enrollment figure of 3,484, representing over 296 of non-graduating students, is correspondingly positive. We can predict that some families will change their plans over the summer—perhaps more than usual this year—and we allow for this when offering spots to applicants.

Turning to new students, despite the pandemic, our application numbers have been healthy and similar to last year's numbers. We are pleased that our strong reputation continues to attract new families in Singapore's competitive international school market. Personalized admissions tours ensure every prospective family feels well supported and informed, and we have confirmed 684 new students for August 2020. We continue to see very strong interest from on-island families: over half of our new students will transfer from other schools in Singapore. Accepted applicants holding US passports make up 59% of planned August entrants.

Middle school and high school enrollment for 2020–21 is at capacity, while there are still some spaces available in the elementary school. Our Chinese immersion program will continue its planned expansion with two third-grade classes. The total size of the third grade will remain steady at 14 classes in all, while second grade will decrease from 12 to 11 classes to match demand. Our admissions office colleagues will remain hard at work over the summer to fill available spots from our waitlist pool and to support our new families.

We forecast a total enrollment for August of just over 4,000 students, although we know that with so much still uncertain in Singapore and worldwide, we may have to modify these expectations as the summer progresses. Word-of-mouth recommendations from SAS families are our most powerful recruiting tools, and we thank everyone who has encouraged friends or colleagues to consider an SAS education for their children.

Faculty comings and goings

This summer, 29 of our 396 teachers will be leaving us, representing a turnover rate of 7%. This is among our lowest teacher attrition rates in the last decade and compares favorably with other international schools' numbers. From what we know of their plans, half of the teachers leaving SAS are returning to their home countries while the others move on to new adventures in Asia, Europe, and South America. We will also say farewell to Anthong Wong, director of facilities and services; Treena Casey, interim director of admissions; Sally Lean, director of world languages; and Doreen McCarthy, interim high school deputy principal. We thank all our departing faculty and leadership for their contributions to SAS.

We received an average of 53 applications for every vacant 2020–21 teaching role, and we look forward to welcoming a highly qualified and enthusiastic group of teachers during new faculty orientation in July. Turning to leadership positions, we will be joined over the summer by Anthony Poullard as high school deputy principal; Tina Herman as director of admissions; Simon Thomas as director of facilities and services; and Sophie Jancourt as director of finance, replacing Angela Wylie, who departed in April. Several internal moves will fill other leadership positions: Lance Murgatroyd will become our acting high school deputy principal; Lisa Wan will serve as acting elementary school deputy principal and will oversee the Chinese immersion program; and Omar Rachid will become our interim director of world languages.

To all those in our community who are moving on, we wish you health, joy and success wherever you go. We look forward to welcoming our new families during orientation week, and we are excited for open house, currently planned for Tuesday, August 11, and the first day of school on Wednesday, August 12. We wish everyone a safe and restful summer break!