Changes in Andover’s Budget Causes Cuts to LITW, Renewal Budgets

Like many institutions, Andover has been working to adjust their financial budget goals in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the letter from the Board of Trustees to faculty on May 7, the board announced Andover’s immediate response to the global pandemic, which included “significant reductions in facilities and technology renewal budgets, reductions in goods and services budgets across the Academy, flat funding of the salary pool, and targeted hiring freeze.” 

According to Linda Dennison, Director of Finance and Comptroller, these adjustments are always subject to change. When the Board meets again in November, the business office will present the latest updates on the Andover’s current condition to the Board of Trustees, including an update on the Covid-19 spending to date. This covers costs for outdoor tents, refrigerators, fans in dorms and classrooms, plexiglass dividers throughout campus, all testing supplies, and the costs of tests incurred.

“I think it is important to set context of the economic environment from May 7 until now. Back in May, as Covid-19 was unfolding, the uncertainty of the pandemic and pervasive business closures negatively affected all aspects of the economy,” Dennison said.

Andover’s business office plans out multiple budgets, considering all the possible Covid-19 scenarios and how they might affect campus. As student enrollment is similar to last year’s and Cohort One boarders have returned to campus, Andover has avoided a worst-case scenario: the loss of all boarding tuition.  

“I’ll do one budget for like, ‘Yay, the sun’s shining, everything’s great.’ Or I’ll have what I’ll call a worst-case scenario, which thankfully, hasn’t come through. And that is ‘Covid-19 is everywhere, and we had to be online for the entire year. That means no boarding tuition revenue at all, which is terrible for us,” said Dennison. 

The early March stock market plunge was significant to the Andover budget for two primary reasons: one being that endowment income—which earns its value in the markets—accounts for half of the school’s budget. Second, the stock market is considered to be one of the most prominent reflections of the economy’s health and growth. In March, the stock market value plummeted by more than 20 percent for the first time in 11 years. 

“As a community, we felt compelled to make a plan for a prolonged, significant economic downturn given the information we had then, so the Board established the 2020-21 budget to reflect the conditions known at that time,” said Dennison. 

Due to the pandemic, the budget plans for this year have been focused on hiring positions that are important to the health and safety of the community, such as more staff at the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center, according to Dennison. 

“While some of the Covid-19 expenses are being covered through generous donations, much is being covered by our budget which would have been used for the facilities and renewal budgets,” Dennison said. 

For many students, a big concern with the budget cuts were the effects on Learning in the World (LITW) travel. The May letter placed all LITW programs on hiatus and announced a decrease in resources for these programs. However, Dennison explains that LITW is not currently bound by budgetary constraints, but rather, is adhering to an administration-wide protocol of avoiding non-essential travel. 

“To ensure the health and safety of our community through the pandemic, [Andover] has paused all non-essential travel until further notice. The senior administration continually evaluates the health data of [Andover] in addition to that of the state, nation, and world… In addition to the campus changes that may be considered, this data also informs greater Academy policies like the travel ban,” said Dennison. 

For Kelly Su ’24, these cuts were to be expected given the current global circumstances of Covid-19. However, Su is still grateful for the resources that Andover is able to provide in the midst of uncertainty. 

Su added, “Although the budget cuts will impact our facilities and resources, we are extremely fortunate to already have access to better resources than most. I also understand that it is very unfair on teachers originally expecting raises, however, given the difficult economic situation the global pandemic has put our school in, these cuts are to be expected and we need to make the appropriate compromises to adjust to this.”

Amelia Meyer ’21 also expressed her sympathy and concern for the effects of the budget cuts on Andover faculty and staff. The Board of Trustees outlined in their May letter that there will be no pay raises, but rather flat funding and a targeted hiring freeze. The hiring freeze remains in place in some areas. 

“It sucks to know that the teachers are being affected like this. I want nothing but to see them flourish and vibe,” Meyer said.