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New Canaan Country School

Chief Financial Officer

Deerfield Associates Executive Search, Inc. has been retained by New Canaan Country School, located in New Canaan, Connecticut, to conduct a national search for a Chief Financial Officer. 

The Chief Financial Officer

The New Canaan Country School is seeking an experienced, energetic, collaborative professional for the position of Chief Financial Officer. This high profile position reports directly to the Head of School. The successful candidate will manage and lead a team of professionals and support staff (including facilities) of thirty-six (36) and join a dynamic, experienced and collegial team. The position requires interaction and teamwork with the Head of School, senior administrators, faculty members, staff, vendors and the Board of Trustees. This opportunity is available in June 2020.


New Canaan Country School

Founded in 1916, New Canaan Country School is an independent, co-educational day school for students in Beginners (age 3) through Grade 9 from Fairfield and Westchester counties. Aaron Cooper is the Head of School. The School currently enrolls by division: Early Childhood (age 3-K) 75, Lower School (Grades 1-4) 194, Middle School (Grades 5-6) 132, Upper School (Grades 7-9) 167. The total student enrollment of 568 includes 276 Boys and 292 Girls of which 105 are Students of Color. There are 109 Faculty and the Student to Faculty Ratio is 5:1. The school draws from 17 towns and provides dedicated bus service to Fairfield and Westchester countries. For more background on New Canaan Country School please visit www.countryschool.net

The School is situated on a beautiful, rural and scenic 75-acre campus which includes 4 dedicated academic divisional buildings, a main building, 2 gymnasiums, a library, a performing arts auditorium and a dining hall. It also features 35 acres of woodlands and trails, a low ropes course, an outdoor classroom, athletic fields and access to an outdoor ice rink, and squash and paddle tennis courts. The School’s current endowment as of June 30, 2019 is $42,563,534. The operating budget is $29,492,000. The Annual Fund (as of June 30, 2019) is $1,444,429. Budgeted financial aid and tuition remission awarded in 2019-2020 is $4,168,225.


The Mission

The mission of New Canaan Country School is to guide students to reach their intellectual, creative, moral, and physical potential. We value the imagination and curiosity of children and respect childhood as an integral part of life. Our teachers set high academic standards and challenge students to question, to think, to collaborate, and to act with integrity. The school works in partnership with families to teach personal, social, and environmental responsibility and to create a community that honors diversity and our common humanity. New Canaan Country School inspires students to be lifelong learners with the courage and confidence to make a positive contribution to the world.


Qualifications

Five qualities are seen as critical:

  • The Chief Financial Officer must have extremely strong finance, accounting and business skills and a proven track record of success;
  • The Chief Financial Officer must have the interpersonal skills and leadership style which will allow him or her to manage a team, articulate a cogent philosophy, and inspire co-workers;
  • The Chief Financial Officer must serve as a strategic partner to the Head of School and the Trustees.
  • The Chief Financial Officer must already understand or show the ability to understand the unique culture of a recognized independent private school;
  • The Chief Financial Officer must have excellent judgment and the ability to approach issues from all perspectives and with an understanding of the interests of all stakeholders;

Work experience in an independent secondary school or college setting is preferred, though individuals with other backgrounds but with the skills and experience described above are encouraged to apply.

More specifically, New Canaan Country School seeks the following experiences, skills and personal qualities in the new Chief Financial Officer:

  • A high level of integrity in all matters.
  • At least ten years work experience in a financial or business environment background.
  • A Bachelor of Arts degree is required. An advanced degree in a relevant area (e.g. MBA) is strongly preferred. A CPA is preferred though not required.
  • The ability to work successfully with members of the community, including faculty, staff and administrative leaders, as well as the Board of Trustees, alumni, parents, and local officials.
  • The ability to serve as a critical business thinker, capable of providing positive and proactive solutions to business issues.
  • A track record of effective leadership.
  • Effective financial and business management skills.
  • Strong communication skills, both in print and in speech.
  • The ability to organize, set priorities, and multi-task.
  • An extraordinary work ethic and the ability to meet unexpected challenges.
  • Familiarity with financial and business issues attendant to a large physical plant.
  • Understanding of compensation, benefits, and employee and labor relations.
  • Proven financial modeling and forecasting skills.
  • An interest in education in general and the school’s mission specifically.
  • Strong negotiation skills in establishing contracts with outside vendors.
  • Good listening skills and the ability to empathize.
  • Humor, energy, creativity and a positive attitude.
  • The ability to identify talent, develop employees professionally, lead and motivate an office of thirty-six (36) spread through eight functional areas.
  • Knowledge of and the ability to implement internal controls.
  • An awareness of trends and issues challenging independent school education and the capacity to relate them to the school’s situation.
  • An understanding of technology and the willingness to embrace technological change to achieve more efficient and cost-effective results.

Responsibilities

The New Canaan Country School Chief Financial Officer has many responsibilities and serves in one of the most important and complex roles at the school. The CFO is responsible for the oversight and management of eight functional areas: Finance, Campus Facilities, Safety and Security, Transportation, Food Services, Technology, Plus Program (Auxiliary Services), and the Health Office.

  • Supervise the work of the school accountant and business office personnel and use standard accounting and bookkeeping procedures, to keep an accurate continuous record of the cash and financial position of the school and manage the financial operation of the school so that the institution remains financially stable.
  • Prepare a monthly operating statement for the head of school and the board of trustees.
  • Provide a monthly report of expenditures for use of each individual budget center within the school.
  • Establish a plan and schedule for the preparation of the annual budget that will permit the setting of the succeeding year’s tuition at a Board of Trustees meeting early in the calendar year.
  • Provide for the securing of an annual audit of the school’s financial records and financial positions.
  • Oversee all school purchasing, financial investments, banking activities, payroll and benefits program.
  • Provide staff support, in conjunction with the head of school, to the Finance Committee, Investment Committee, Faculty Life, Horizons and Real Estate Committee of the Board of Trustees.
  • Manage risk at the school to ensure the safety of personnel and students in their use of the facilities and to maintain appropriate levels of insurance to protect the property and to cover the liability of the school.
  • Oversee the maintenance operation of the school and campus properties.
  • Oversee the physical operation of the entire school and its programs.
  • Create and oversee an on-going equipment replacement program and PPRRSM budget.
  • Develop, maintain and report all required environmental, health and maintenance standards as required by law and to work with the administration, to ensure compliance with all regional, state and federal regulations and laws as they impact the school.
  • Arrange bids and develop specifications for all outside contractual work.
  • Oversee the work of all outside contractors to ensure compliance with contractual agreements and budgetary restrictions.
  • Serve as the financial aid officer.
  • Oversee school transportation, including transportation routes, schedules and contracts and to assess the performance of the transportation companies.
  • Oversee and coordinate the work of the secretarial staff and support staff in conjunction of the Office Manager.
  • Ensure the effective management of the food-service operation and any other auxiliary enterprises of the school.
  • Assist the head of school with decisions regarding salaries and benefits for all personnel, including the evaluation of support staff.
  • Coordinate and promote outside use of the school’s facilities.
  • Represent the school at various regional, state, and national associations relative to the role of being the business manager.
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the head of school.
  • Support the school and its leadership.

Head of School, Aaron Cooper

Aaron Cooper has dedicated his career to Pre-K through Grade 9 independent school education. Over the last 22 years, he has been a teacher, coach, advisor and administrator.

Aaron earned an Ed.M. in Private School Leadership and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University; he received his B.A. in the Growth and Structure of Cities from Haverford College, and a diploma from Groton School. He joined New Canaan Country School in July 2018 as Head of School, where he has shaped a strong leadership team and launched a five-year strategic planning process.

Previously, he spent 15 years at Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, N.J., the last six of which he served as Head of School. Prior to that, Aaron worked at the Peck School (NJ), Germantown Friends School (PA), and with the A Better Chance (NY) organization.

He has served on the board of The Community Chest of Englewood, has served on five re-accreditation visiting committees and is a member of the Elementary School Heads Association.

Aaron and his wife, Kara, have two daughters, Julia ’21 and Charlotte ’23.


History of the School

New Canaan Country School was founded as the Community School in 1916, under the leadership of co-principals, Miss Effie Dunton and Miss Edith Dudley. Ten members of the Board of Trustees administered the school, assisted by teachers’ and mothers’ committees. This tradition of parent support and involvement has been the wellspring of the school’s vitality and perhaps is its most valued heritage.

In 1936, the Community School moved to Ponus Ridge and established itself as the New Canaan Country School. Soon after, Henry Welles became headmaster and set the school on a course that has always been directed toward the “pursuit of excellence.”

Henry Welles retired in 1963 and was succeeded by George E. Stevens. Under his resourceful direction, the school’s curriculum and organization were gradually changed to meet the needs of modern life. Mr. Stevens was also instrumental in the creation of the Horizons Student Enrichment Program and helped the school to focus greater efforts toward enrolling students from diverse backgrounds.

In 1979, Nicholas S. Thacher became the school’s third headmaster. During Mr. Thacher’s tenure, the school’s enrollment reached 500 students. In 1994, Country School was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Exemplary “Blue Ribbon” School for Excellence in Education.

In 2000, Timothy R. Bazemore was named the school’s fourth head. Under his leadership, the school’s enrollment, faculty, and commitment to excellence have been as strong as ever. In 2007, in recognition of the school’s environmental commitment, the first LEED-certified building opened on campus.

In 2018, the New Canaan Country School Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Aaron Cooper as the sixth Head of School, effective July 1, 2018.

Throughout its history, Country School has emphasized the value of childhood and the role of experience in learning. For nearly 100 years, teachers have blended an outstanding academic program with an appreciation for patience, simplicity and the power of imagination. The longstanding tradition of parent support and involvement continues to be a vital element of the school. The character and accomplishments of New Canaan Country School alumni provide powerful testimony to the success of the school’s approach.


The School’s Benefits

The Chief Financial Officer position at New Canaan Country School offers an exciting and supportive work environment, a competitive salary and benefit package which includes medical plans, a pension plan, and paid vacation. New Canaan Country School is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Contact Information

To explore this superb career opportunity on a highly confidential basis please send a letter of interest and a resume (both as Microsoft Word documents) to:

Doug Cooney, Executive Search Consultant, Deerfield Associates Executive Search, Inc.
572 Washington Street, Suite 15, Wellesley, MA 02482
Telephone: 781.237.2800
Email


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