Friday, September 27, 2013

Study: Private school boosts local economy

Community School injects estimated $15.4 million


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

    An analysis of the economic impact of the independent Community School in Sun Valley shows that the school provides at least $15.4 million annually to the economy of Blaine County.
    The analysis of the economic impact of the school was done at Community School’s request by Sustain Blaine and its executive director, Harry Griffith. Sustain Blaine is a nonprofit organization that works toward creating and sustaining a healthy economy for Blaine County.
    “We wanted to have a very solid, scientific-based methodology assessing the economic impact of the school in our community, and Harry is an expert at that,” Head of School David Holmes said Wednesday. “I wanted to confirm my beliefs that the school itself contributed to the economic health of the community.”
    Information regarding the analysis was first published in the Community School Fall 2013 CS Magazine. The analysis shows that the school provides more dollars to the local economy than the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, which has been rated by Sustain Blaine as the event having the greatest economic impact on the area.
    According to the analysis, the symphony has an economic impact of about $14.9 million.
    The analysis of both the Community School and the symphony takes into account direct dollars, indirect dollars and an economic-impact multiplier.
    According to the CS Magazine story, Griffith considered as direct impacts school tuition, payroll, expenses for supplies and school lunches. Direct impacts amounted to about $5 million.
    Indirect impacts added just over $2 million more to the total. In doing the analysis, Sustain Blaine considered several factors, such as visits from family and friends to school students, family relocations for attendance at the school and expenses associated with outdoor trips.
    Sustain Blaine used a multiplier of 1.17 percent to the combined direct and indirect costs, then added that to the direct and indirect costs to reach the total economic impact of $15.4 million. Multipliers used in economic analyses show how direct and indirect dollars are spread throughout the economy by secondary spending.
    Holmes said that while the $15.4 million figure is impressive, he thinks it is a conservative number that doesn’t take into account other impacts that the school has on the economy.
    Griffith could not be reached for comment, but is quoted in the CS Magazine story as saying that future studies would include “businesses that relocated to Sun Valley or the Wood River Valley because parent-owners wanted their children to go to Community School.”
    Holmes said further analysis of the school’s economic impact might also consider real estate—estimated at more than $300 million—owned by school staff and parents, philanthropy contributions from people associated with the school and impacts of the Sun Valley Ski Academy, a partnership between the school and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation to provide aspiring athletes with rigorous training in their sports and a solid education.
    “That’s all added value to the economic base of the community,” Holmes said.
    The Community School analysis is part of a larger study that Sustain Blaine has been conducting for the past few years to provide in-depth information on the state of the local economy and the effects of the Great Recession.
    “What I believe this is all about is we’re not out of the woods economically in this community,” Holmes said. “We’re all in this together.
    “We’re all collectively trying to work for the benefit of the community and we wanted an economic analysis to confirm that the school is a factor in advancing the economic foundation of the community.”
Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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