Dear Parents and Friends of Imhoff Waldorf School
As you are aware, our College of Teachers and Board of Management have spent many hours dealing with the dilemma of low student numbers in our High School as well as the need to relocate by January 2018 as a fire-station is being built on the present school premises.
When we bought our new school land, the business model was for Imhoff Waldorf to build the Primary School over a five-year period and that we would rent the premises for our High School from an investor who has purchased the land alongside ours and was committed to building the High School and renting it to us. Unfortunately, this agreement with the investor fell through in the first term of this year as the high school did not show the growth in pupil numbers needed to support the agreed business model.
At the same time we received notice from our landlord that we needed to relocate our Primary School three years earlier than our five-year development plan.
These two factors led us to the announcement that we made to our community in April this year regarding the risks we were facing. The lack of premises proved to make the task of promoting our High School and increasing the much needed numbers very difficult. When we met with the High School parents we gave them the assurance that we would do our best to find ways around this situation and would advise them by the end of the second term of the outcome of that decision.
After much deliberation, conducting of parent surveys, consideration of building options, meetings with our sister schools, crowdfunding platform appeals, high school teacher fundraising events, tightening of budgets and emotional meetings, our College and Board came to a brave decision to continue our offering of a Waldorf High School to Class 10. Constantia Waldorf School generously agreed to take our matric students in the same way that Michael Oak had done the year before when we first heard that the fire station was to be built.
This message, given at the end of the second term, brought relief for those children and parents who will move into Classes 9 and 10 next year and extreme disappointment for those students needing to find alternative schools for Class 11 and 12, and for the teachers affected by this decision.
Since that announcement and our previous communication with you on 21 June, our Board and College have worked tirelessly with the reality of our decision – sourcing the best possible solution for temporary classrooms on our land and meeting the teaching needs to suit the time-table within the limited budget. The most important factor in all of this has been student enrolment, and these numbers have not been forthcoming.
Recently, our Board of Management expressed deep concern that we would be financially negligent if we did not take heed of the legal and financial advice where the projections for the coming years is that the financial loss of the high school would put the whole school at risk – especially in light of the need to build primary school classrooms within the next two years.
On Friday 25 August, we had to revisit our earlier decision and we have since communicated the extremely difficult conclusion that we need to close our High School. We are currently dealing with the, understandably, disappointed emotional responses from our high school teachers, students and parents.
We have shared our news with the Federation Council, and have asked them to circulate the news of this decision, especially to our sister schools who will receive applications for those students who wish to remain within the Waldorf School movement.
We will be meeting with a representative of the Federation on Wednesday and keep you updated with any news.
We thank you for your support.
Imhoff Waldorf School College of Teachers and Board of Management