Quaker school having trouble finding a home (5/14/09)

May 14, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Due to the lack of a suitable site, a proposed private Quaker school will wait until 2010 to open in the Champlain Valley. Spokesperson Annie Galloway said the board of directors for the Green Mountain Friends School is still attempting to find a location for the organization.

“It’s a hard decision, but we’re not going to be ready for next year,” Galloway said in regards to opening the school in the fall of 2009.

The Green Mountain Friends School will promote Quaker educational philosophy. It will be among 80 Friends schools in the United States. The schools don’t teach religious doctrine, but instead teach about self-awareness and appreciation for diversity and life. It would be the first school of its kind in Vermont. Galloway said the board of directors hopes to have room for 60 elementary and middle school children, and will be open to students from throughout the Champlain Valley, including Williston. Tuition, according to the school’s Web site, www.vtquakerschool.org, was to cost $7,000 for the upcoming school year. Galloway was unsure if the tuition would change for the 2010-2011 school year.

For several months, Green Mountain Friends School officials have looked into several sites around the area, but have not found an ideal place. Galloway said the site would have to be in a centralized location for families in the Burlington area. The site would also need a moderate amount of acreage for the school’s farm program, she said.

Galloway said the board has not decided if it will buy land and build a small school or find an existing property to renovate. In the end, officials did not want to rush the process.

“I’m happy we’re taking our time right now,” Galloway said.

In the meantime, Galloway said the Green Mountain Friends School is looking into creating a home schooling program for families interested in getting started. Galloway said the specifics still need to be worked out, but parents would follow a Friends school curriculum, with outside help from Friends educators.

“We’ve had a lot of parents express interest in (home schooling),” Galloway said. “That way, we at least can start at some level.”

Galloway reiterated the program is only in the planning stages and more details would follow.

Families interested in obtaining more information can contact school officials at vtquakerschool@gmail.com.