Claire Goldsmith’s Zoom interview with Brownell Talbot’s Head of School Kristi Gibbs can be found below in video and audio only formats. 

Brownell Talbot, the only independent school in the state of Nebraska (and an MSON member) has just announced it will be cutting its upper school tuition by 30% next year. In this interview, Head of School Kristi Gibbs, a member of MSON’s Steering Committee, describes the market forces that led to this decision, the process by which her team researched and ultimately made this decision, and the general philosophy shift it represents.
Highlights include:
  • How close tracking of enrollment trends at lower versus upper school led to a tuition reset. Brownell Talbot’s lower school doubled in enrollment during the pandemic while its upper school remained under-enrolled.
  • The importance of clarity around what draws families to a school at different grade levels. What is the value proposition for the whole school and for different grade levels?
  • Exploration of who should be part of a tuition reset conversation. In this case, an “entrepreneurial” board member partnered with other trustees and with school staff in enrollment management, marketing, business, and communications to study the issue and propose a change.
  • Rethinking the old model of discounting seats because “some tuition is better than no tuition.” Where this plan can fail—and why a tuition reset makes sense.