COVID-19 KMS Update, April 16, 2020


April 16, 2020

Dear KMS Families and Faculty:

It’s been over a week since our winter term ended, and a month since we made the decision to close campus and send everyone home. Since then, students have returned to their sending school classes or are now on a well-deserved, two-week break. As you know, we conducted a really cool remote winter-term awards and recognition ceremony last Friday evening. The situation at KMS continues to evolve, and the past week and a half has been anything but restful for many of us, as we evaluate, plan and communicate, re. spring term and our summer program. I want to share some of our planning and updates with you today.

The KMS board of trustees and faculty continue to monitor state and federal guidelines, updates and mandates. I have shared a link here for you to review. With these updates in mind, KMS has made the following determinations:

  • As per Governor Scott’s recent order extending the stay-at-home order through May 15 and cessation of in-person academics for the remainder of this school year, KMS has planned a continuation of remote classes and athletics through June 5.

  • We are currently planning for a remote graduation, and will soon organize a student and faculty committee to innovate and plan for something special for our seniors. There’s a slim chance that this event will be able to happen in person, but for now, that is our backup, and we will keep working on something remote and meaningful for all.

  • On-snow summer camps are currently on hold, but we are planning on hosting our Killington strength and conditioning, bag jump and cycling camps as scheduled. We are hopeful that there will be additional opportunities to gather in Killington for S&C, and are holding out for the possibility that some teams might return to snow in August.

  • Currently, our plan for the 2020-2021 school year is to start remote classes as scheduled on August 17th, followed by “normal” operations on campus at the beginning of September. We are 100% confident that KMS will resume school next year and that we will be able to return to campus as scheduled; however, the current situation requires that we prepare for any possibility, including the need to begin working remotely until later in the fall. We’ve asked our faculty to begin to plan for a period of remote learning, and will lean heavily on our scientific and medical community, state and federal guidelines on when it will be safe to return to campus and under what restrictions and precautions when we do so.

Last week, our board of trustees held a conference call to resolve the following items and actions:

  • Trustees authorized shortening our school year (ending school on Friday, June 5), and reviewed and approved the remote learning plan presented by April Hayden on behalf of the teaching faculty.

  • Approved a hiring freeze until May 15, after Governor Scott’s recent stay-at-home order ends. This includes holding off on signing a pending contract with our architect and civil engineers working on the campus expansion project until after the May board of trustee’s meeting.

  • Authorized application for the PPP (Payroll Protection Program), a SBA loan through our bank, People’s United. We learned last Friday that we have been approved, but our bank has not informed us when the funds might become available. This is intended to help with payroll through early June 2020. In light of this, we have also reached out to some private investors to ascertain the feasibility of a short-term bridge loan to get us to the SBA loan that has been approved. Currently, KMS is apx. $400,000 behind in cash flow and accounts receivable compared to this time last year. This is due primarily to loss of revenue from summer camps and deposits, but tuition payments have also lagged behind previous months of March and April. While completely understandable given the situation, slow contract execution and thus tuition payments places additional stress on the admin and faculty. We ask our returning families to contact the business office directly if you are having difficulty making tuition payments, settling student accounts, etc., as we understand and want to work with each of you on a plan during this challenging time.

  • The board also approved a tuition remission proposal for the spring term that commences April 20, 2020. While this places additional financial stress on KMS today, the trustees and administration feel strongly that this is the right thing to do, and the board authorized the business office to review and analyze any savings achieved by operating remotely. While KMS is short on cash for the reasons described above, Dave Willis will be reaching out to each of the spring terms families individually with an amount of the variable cost savings prorated based on any financial aid received. Given our current financial situation, our hope is that families will choose to make this an annual fund gift first, and if not, apply the balance to outstanding student accounts first. Any remaining funds can be directed as credit towards next year’s tuition deposits/payments for returning students.

A bit of good news amid all this uncertainty: The day after KMS closed and we sent students home March 13, several trustees and I met with a small group of potential donors to our campus expansion campaign. In one day, we raised $2.5 million in gifts and pledges for the campus expansion project! With an additional $1 million in pledges and some potential gifts-in-kind, we are about half-way from being able to complete all of Phase One, which includes a new gym, office and tuning space for athletics, renovations of the existing building and improvements to the grounds and outside of the main campus building. This is great news for the future of KMS, and we are pleased to share this information with you today!

I want to also take this opportunity to extend my deepest appreciation for our KMS faculty and their efforts on our Winter-Term Awards and Recognition Ceremony and virtual awards site. Here’s what I wrote to the faculty following the awards ceremony…

Dear Faculty:

I am beyond humbled by your submissions to the Winter Awards site. I realized after giving my speech why tonight's format gave me such anxiety - I've never thought that my words matter as much as the work that you do day in and day out with our students, and I was uncomfortable having my speech as the focal point of this evening's launch. I didn't want my piece to upstage yours, and the thought of being on camera while all of you stayed at home felt so foreign and uncomfortable.

In hindsight, I realized that just because we used a different format, the power and impact of your work with the students still shone through, and going through your video submissions just now brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart! You are an amazing group of professionals, and I am fortunate to be able to work with you.

Huge props to Dave Willis, Chris Bianchi, Eric Kuntz and Ansel Dickey, who built the site and set up tonight's live feed. We're really lucky to have their talents.

My very best to all of you, and congratulations on a job well done!

I couldn’t be more appreciative of this hard-working group of individuals and their dedication to KMS and our students. Please join me in giving the faculty a well-deserved “virtual” round of applause for all of their efforts.

In closing, my thoughts continue to remain with the KMS community and anyone who is deeply affected by this current pandemic and economic crisis. We will pull through this, we will emerge a stronger and more closely-knit community and country, but not without will, resolve and a commitment to keep our KMS values at the fore.

On behalf of everyone at KMS, we wish you the very best, health, family, work and wellness.

Sincerely,

Tao Smith

KMS Head of School

Killington, Vermont 2020

Head of School


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