Taos Waldorf School to close next year

The private Taos Waldorf School, established 20 years ago as the Taos Country Day School, will shut down after the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Cody Hooks
Posted 12/28/15

The Taos Waldorf School will shut down after the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Travis Good, board president, confirmed last week the school would finish out the school year before ceasing operations. The decision to close was made jointly by …

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Taos Waldorf School to close next year

The private Taos Waldorf School, established 20 years ago as the Taos Country Day School, will shut down after the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Posted

The Taos Waldorf School will shut down after the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Travis Good, board president, confirmed last week the school would finish out the school year before ceasing operations. The decision to close was made jointly by the board of trustees and college of teachers.

Taos Waldorf School, established 20 years ago as the Taos Country Day School, is the only private school in Taos County for kindergarten through eighth grade.

The school has been through rough and unsustainable financial troubles in recent years.

According to publicly available tax filings from 2011-2013, it is clear Taos Waldorf School suffered dramatic swings in funding and ended up short on cash more than once. As a private school run as a nonprofit, it gets no financial support from the state and must support itself through tuition, donations and fundraising.

The school’s tax forms indicate that total revenue in in 2011 was $641,383, while total revenue in 2012 was only $284,555.

Expenses outpaced revenue in both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the school’s expenses amounted to $20,080 more than its $284,555 in revenue. In 2013, the expenses were $11,775 more than its $302,639 in revenue.

Teacher salaries also fluctuated over the years. According to the filings, the school paid out as little as $187,147 in 2012 and as much as $446,693 in 2010 for salaries, compensation and benefits.

No one from Taos Waldorf School could be reached for comment.

Charter schools have flourished in the area; nine charter schools are spread across Taos County.

Taos Waldorf School was almost one of them. In 2012, Waldorf school organizers applied to become a state charter school.

In assessing the quality of the school’s application, the state recommended denying the Taos Waldorf application for an apparent lack of familiarity with state law and public school requirements, as well as a failure to provide a balanced budget that would adequately fund teachers and staff, state-mandated audits and legal expanses.

Taos Mountain Charter School would have replaced Taos Waldorf School. But organizers withdrew the application two days before they were set to make their case before the state Public Education Commission, the body responsible for chartering schools across New Mexico.

“Statewide, we’re pretty saturated [with charter schools],” Jeff Carr, Taos-area representative to the Public Education Commision, said Monday (Dec. 21). “There are plenty of options for kids in Taos,” he said.

Taos Waldorf wasn’t the only private school to pursue a charter. Carr cited McCurdy High School in Española as a former private Methodist school that “wasn’t getting the donations or the money” to sustain the 100-year-old institution. McCurdy had another advantage, as there were no other charter schools to compete with in Española.

Carr added many charter schools have the “feel” of a private school because of their alternative curriculum and small setting. The big difference, then, is that charter schools are free to attend. According to Taos Waldorf School’s website, annual tuition was as much as $7,500.

“We lost people since [the 2008 economic crash],” he said. And in public education as well as private, fewer students means less money to keep a school afloat.

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