It’s big news when a venerable private school commits to a once-in-a-generation transformation, given its deep history and tradition. But when the 93-year-old Greenwich Country Day School (N-9) announced that it would acquire and assume all operations of the nearby Stanwich School (PK-12), a process began that would create one of the premiere co-educational N-12 schools in the country.
After major renovations and enhancements on the Stanwich campus, soon to be known as “the Upper School,” the first-ever GCDS High School students will enjoy a state-of-the-art facility and curriculum beginning in September 2019, drawing students not only from Greenwich, but also from the wider Fairfield (Connecticut) and Westchester (New York) area.
“GCDS Upper School will complement and strengthen the current elementary and middle school programs, allowing generations of children to continue their Country Day experience – one that is rich in academic excellence and character development,” says Bill Auerswald, the school’s Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer.
“We’ve had the unique opportunity to build a high school program that combines the best attributes of innovative, 21st-century learning with the character-based skills that have been a tradition of our community for nearly 100 years,” he says.
“We felt very well protected and valued, and now we are so excited about the future.”
“While we’re blessed with abundant resources and philanthropic support,” Bill explains, “we needed additional funding to make this expansion a reality. And we wanted to get it all done quickly, so we wouldn’t lose any momentum in our long-term commitment to educational excellence.” This includes connecting and scaling the schools’ culture and making sure the institution and its values remain sustainable despite the challenges of operating on two distinct campuses.
That’s a tall order for any school administrator. But while Bill has worked in school finance and operations, helping him to deal with such challenges, he also has practiced law, taught school and worked with youth as a camp counselor and sports coach – a breadth of experience that helped guide him through the arduous process.
“I take care of the things that don’t involve teaching and learning,” he says with some modesty, calling himself a counselor on behalf of the administration to bring the best business and finance information to light for making decisions, working closely with the board and Headmaster Adam Rohdie.
In fact, Bill has played a major role in this transition while having responsibility for everything from dining services to the physical plant to school operations, including such disciplines as auditing, budgeting, risk management, logistics and construction. On top of that, he coaches boy’s hockey, to make sure he stays connected to the kids. “I love the breadth of my job,” he says.
To provide the financing, Bill turned to IDB. After 23 different banks responded to the RFP – the formal request for proposal – he found that IDB was “the most perceptive and responsive. They understood we weren’t looking for an incremental approach. We wanted to move right away so our kids wouldn’t have to wait and to maintain our reputation with parents and donors, who are often one and the same.”
Bill also says that “everyone at IDB, right up to the president, was lovely to deal with, understanding our needs and priorities, even helping to minimize debt compliance and covenant requirements.”
“IDB offers a cohesive lack of institutional bureaucracy,” he continues, “which otherwise can overwhelm a relationship. We felt very well protected and valued, and now we are so excited about the future.”