It has been some time since the Independent High School of the Willamette Valley Initiative Board has had the chance to provide you with an update. Since our last communications there have been some very dramatic changes to the landscape of in-person education. Many of our children are attending Waldorf education primarily on-line with some in-person contact. Some of our youngest children have the chance to still attend the Eugene Waldorf School in person. And many of us are also exploring the possibilities available with co-op models and homeschooling. By necessity, so many of us have taken intentional education to a level we never thought would be needed in our times.
We have all had to navigate many other changes in our lives since COVID-19. Some of those changes have had a significant impact on the ability of the high school initiative to move forward. Most importantly, so many community members have had to adapt to uncertain economic and financial conditions. This has resulted in our inability to meet the fundraising goals that we set some time ago. By October 1, 2020, we needed to raise $50,000 in order to receive the Rudolf Steiner Foundation matching grant of $50,000. If we were able to achieve that goal, we would need to raise only $50,000 more to adequately fund the initiative before the planned opening in the fall of 2021. We have not raised any funds to claim any of the grant money, and so we remain $150,000 short of the final goal.
Additionally, there has been a shift in enrollment in the Eugene Waldorf School. The lower enrollment combined with families’ revisioning of education going forward has led to a drop in the number of students available for an opening class in 2021. The board considered these changes and unanimously agreed that we do not have the financial and enrollment conditions necessary to open in the fall of 2021. In the very near future we will be returning deposits to current eighth grade families. We are so very disappointed. But we committed some time ago that we cannot open simply to open, but needed to be confident that we could remain open for a number of years to become self-sustaining.
This last consideration has also led the board to consider whether a Waldorf high school can truly be viable in this area. In the coming months the board will be looking at whether this initiative can survive beyond this year or if we need to put this energy to rest. The initiative has been active for eight years. We have tried to raise funds and community involvement for openings over the last three years. Each time we have not been able to “catch the wave.” Right now we need to be brutally honest with ourselves and all of those who have have supported this effort. Can this specific initiative be kept in operation? Or is it better to let it go, and create space for another tree to flower and bear fruit for another season? As we head into the new year the board will seek clarity on this question. And when we do, we will let all of you know, too.
IHSWV Board Members
Independent High School of the Willamette Valley
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