Dale Scott & Company is a 2021 Inc. Best in Business honoree. With the second annual Best in Business awards, Inc. recognizes companies that have had a superlative impact on their industries, their communities, the environment, and society as a whole.
Oh, San Francisco! Entrepreneurial cradle to industry-upending startups, tech titans, VC gods--and a lapsed investment banker named Dale Scott, who's made it his mission to help public schools get the funding they need. That's no small feat in a state with the fifth-largest economy in the world, where idiosyncratic laws and regulations make voter approval of school bonds particularly vexing.
"You're trying to get funding to provide the best educational services possible," says Scott. "At the same time, school districts have to be aware of how that affects local taxpayers."
His eponymous firm, Dale Scott & Company, has been plugging away at this for three-plus decades. Scott chose to work with public schools so he could continue his career in finance, but in a way that allowed his business to succeed only when his clients did. For example, when the school bonds that DS&C works on--sometimes for a year or longer--fail to get voter approval, his company doesn't get paid.
DS&C recently expanded its mandate in an effort to address the soaring housing costs in California that have made it virtually impossible for some educators to afford to live in the communities where they teach. Working with San Mateo County's Jefferson Union High School District, the company created the nation's first voter-approved bond to build housing for teachers and staff at below-market value. One of the worst-funded school districts in the Bay Area, Jefferson Union has an annual staff turnover rate of around 25 percent--the inevitable result of an inability to offer competitive salaries.
"It's very hard to recruit teachers and staff members with the current labor shortage," says Scott.
He would know. Not only has his firm received two patents for programs the company has designed to enhance schools' ability to obtain financing, but Scott also literally wrote the book on school bonds. First published in 2013, Win Win: An Insider's Guide to School Bonds is widely used by school districts across California to demystify the process of developing and selling general obligation bonds.
In San Mateo County, builders have already broken ground to construct more than 120 rental housing units financed using the $33 million bond; they are expected to be completed by April 2022.
"Students are impacted dramatically by having staff turnover every year, so this does have the potential to make a significant impact," says Tina Van Raaphorst, associate superintendent of business at the Jefferson Union High School District. "Dale's company made that possible."