The 2018-2019 academic year was one of many achievements and celebrations. Construction of the Winn Science Center and the renovation of the McDermott-Green Science Building were both completed on time and under budget. The School incurred no debt for the entire project, thanks to the unwavering, generous support of our St. Mark’s community and the careful planning and execution by our Board leadership. During the two years of construction work, Steve Rogers — parent of two Marksmen, Trustee, and Chair of the Architecture and Construction Committee — attended over 50 meetings with our Architect/Owner/Construction project team to help ensure the project’s success. Many thanks to Steve for his insightful leadership and extraordinary care.
Fiscal year-end 2019 yielded a healthy surplus, which was invested in the School’s Long-term Reserve for Future Operations, a Board-directed fund. In the past, funds from this reserve have been used for meaningful purposes, such as debt retirement and campus improvements. Enrollment continues to be at an all-time high. The Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees, with the expert leadership of Chair David McAtee ’87, continues to provide excellent stewardship of the School’s annual operating budget of approximately $35 million. The St. Mark’s Fund contributes 11 percent of our operating revenue, which is significant for funding the School’s programs across campus. St. Mark’s balance sheet reflects $256 million in assets with only $3.3 million in debt — another clear sign of our financial strength.
The Audit Committee, expertly led by Chair Jeff Hillier ’76, met with the School’s independent auditors, Lane Gorman Trubitt, in November to review and approve the audit report for the financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. As has been the case for all previous years, the auditors issued a “clean opinion.”
St. Mark’s began working with advisors from Cambridge Associates during fiscal year 2019, as Cambridge assumed the role of the School’s investment consulting firm. The Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, chaired by Fraser Marcus ’72, is comprised of extremely knowledgeable individuals, each of whom possess a sophisticated understanding of asset allocation, portfolio diversity, and the myriad investment vehicles. Due in large part to their careful oversight, the balance of the School’s endowment funds exceeded $140 million at year-end.
Significant work was performed to the physical plant and campus grounds over the past year, and the Facilities Committee, led by Craig Levering ’75, provided guidance for the projects and stewardship of the budget provided by the drawdown from Sustaining Funds invested in the School’s endowment. The work of this committee is increasingly vital and focused as we recover and rebuild following the damage suffered from the October tornadoes. Fortunately, during fiscal year 2019 the School resumed its work with Jeff Blanchard of the Richmond-based Blanchard Group to update the campus master plan. This collaboration will help to inform our plans as we address restoration and future construction on campus.
Although our timetable may be slightly adjusted, our endeavors to attain the objectives stated in Goals for St. Mark’s IV will continue to be our focus. I believe that this is an important time for us to think creatively and strategically about the independent school financial model. The combined strengths from our previous planning, financial reserves, community support, along with dedicated Board leadership will ensure that we continue to thrive and achieve excellence — St. Mark’s Strong
— for future generations.