School Finance 713

2018 Summer Comings and Goings

As we approach the end of another school year, we thank you for reading our Finance at SAS series. These articles about the school's financial and operational decisions are intended to promote understanding and support of school policies within our large, diverse parent community. We will continue the School Finance series next year, and your questions and topic suggestions are always welcome. In our final 2017–18 article, we present a summary of the current numbers of students and teachers leaving and joining our SAS community.

Student withdrawal and re-enrollment numbers

As is usual in international schools, the end of the year means bidding farewell to a number of friends and classmates. The admissions office informs us that, as of mid-May, 605 current students will not be returning in August, including our 273 departing seniors. Representing 15% of our student body, this is lower than our withdrawal rates in recent years. Our departing students have spent an average of 4.5 years at SAS.

Our re-enrollment figure of 3,328, or 90% of our non-graduating students, is correspondingly positive. This is our highest re-enrollment number ever, and likely reflects steady U.S. and regional economic conditions, as well as our more efficient re-enrollment process. We can assume from previous years that some families will change their plans over the summer and we allow for this when offering spots to applicants.

New student applications, acceptances, waitlist, and trends

Our application numbers have been strong this year and reached a high in April that approaches levels not seen since 2010–11. We are pleased that our strong reputation continues to attract new families in an increasingly competitive market. This year, monthly open house events from September to May also helped us attract prospective families. Director of Admissions John Leiner reports that we have confirmed 728 new students for August 2018. We continue to see strong interest from families already on the island, and this year over 40 percent of our new students will transfer to us from other schools in Singapore. On the other hand, we estimate that fewer than five percent of withdrawing students plan such transfers. The highest numbers of on-island transfers come from SAIS, followed by CIS, OFS, UWC, and GEMS.

Our early learning center, middle school, and high school are all full, while in the elementary school, spots only remain in kindergarten. In response to demand, class adjustments next year will include expanding prekindergarten from seven to eight sections; expanding grades 2 and 4 by one section each; and downsizing grade 3 by one section. Both kindergarten and grade 1 will include two Chinese-immersion sections. Our admissions office colleagues will remain hard at work over the summer to fill available spots from our healthy waitlist pool and support our new families.

We keep a careful eye on application trends in order to best serve our community. Our number of accepted applicants holding US passports has risen slightly and now stands at just over 50 percent, with summer applicants likely to increase this figure. On the other hand, the Singapore government seems to be tightening the number of waivers granted to Singaporean children wishing to study at foreign system schools (FSS), so there may be some decrease in our percentage of local students.

Overall, we are pleased to report that we expect to be operating at full capacity in 2018–19. We are proud to be one of very few international schools in Singapore with continuous full or near-full enrollment, even as the number of FSS seats has increased rapidly in the last decade. We know that word-of-mouth recommendations from SAS parents are our most powerful recruiting tools, and we thank all of you who have encouraged friends to consider an SAS education for their children.

Faculty comings and goings

Turning to faculty departures and arrivals, this summer 27 of our 383 teachers will be leaving us, along with one administrator, Chief Advancement Officer Sarah Morris. This represents a teacher turnover rate of 7%, which is our lowest in five years and compares very favorably with other international schools' numbers. From what we know of their plans, around 60 percent of our departing faculty members are moving back to their home countries, with others pursuing new adventures in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. Visit SAS Says Goodbye on Facebook to view their photos and wish them well (please note this is not an official SAS page). We thank them for their years of service to SAS.

To those in our community who are moving on, we wish you happiness and success in your new locations. We are excited to welcome our new families during orientation week, and to see the whole 2018–19 SAS community at open house on Friday, August 10 and on the first day of school on Monday, August 13. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer break.