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Waldorf School nearing maximum capacity

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” The Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork is approaching maximum, both in terms of student population and in the built envi­ronment of the campus, according to Administra­tive Coordinator Harley Stroh.

The school, with an annual budget of more than $1 million, is located at 16543 Highway 82 ” on the old high­way frontage road a few miles east of Carbondale. Its student population has recently been “hovering around 180” stu­dents, taught by 22 full-time teachers and faculty members in grades 1 through 8, Stroh said.

The school’s Waldorf educa­tion program is designed to allow kids to learn at a pace appropriate to their own abili­ties and those of their class­mates, with teachers advancing through the grade years along with the class, so that the stu­dents and their teachers stay together as the years pass.



The first Waldorf school was founded in 1919 ” the year World War I ended and Grand Canyon National Park was created ” based on the educational theories of Rudolf Steiner.

“There are now more than 1,000 independent Waldorf schools and 1,400 independent Waldorf kindergartens located in approximately sixty coun­tries throughout the world,” according to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, “making up one of the world’s largest independent educational sys­tems, as well as Waldorf-based, government-funded schools and charter schools, Waldorf homeschooling environments, and Waldorf schools for special education. Waldorf methods have also been adopted by numerous teachers within tra­ditional state and private schools.”




The Roaring Fork school started in Aspen in 1991, but the current campus was begun in 1997, using volunteer labor to put up several straw-bale buildings. Others have been added every couple of years, and one more building is planned, Stroh said, to make the campus complete. He said the school also expects to soon top out at its maximum of 200 students.

In the 2005-06 fiscal year, the last for which tax records are available, the Roaring Fork school took in $1.71 million in revenues, and spent $1.72 mil­lion. Of that, $1.56 million was spent on program services, with an additional $149,738 spent on management and general expenses, and $13,686 on fundraising efforts, accord­ing to the institutions Form 990.

The budget for the current year, Stroh said, is approxi­mately $1.3 million. He said the school maintains “a very small endowment” of approxi­mately $5,000 from year to year.

During the 2005-06 year, according to the tax records, the school took in just over $100,000 from its main fundraising activities, which included a silent auction, the Winterfaire and Mayfaire cele­brations, and “class activity,” the records show.

Stroh said that it is part of the school’s philosophy that there is no headmaster, per se. Instead, there are “coordina­tors” for the administration (Stroh, who is not a teacher) and separate coordinators for the “pedagogical” realm of mentoring teachers and over­seeing instruction, and for enrollment. The school also employs an office manager and a secretary.

Stroh earned a salary of $33,500 in 2005-06; it has since risen to approximately $37,000, he said. The same basic salary is paid to the oth­er coordinators and teachers start at around $36,000, he said, as “a function of the sense of equitability among faculty and administration.”

He noted that while the tuition for the school now stands at $7,950, and will rise to $8,450 next year, the school doled out roughly $185,000 in “tuition adjustments” to those who could not come up with the full tuition.

“To have a healthy school, we have to have social diversity,” Stroh explained, adding that parents contribute in many ways to the school’s operations, as well, further instilling a sense of extended family par­ticipation.

According to Stroh, 75 per­cent of the school’s finances come from tuition; the remain­ing 25 percent coming from grants and donations.

The school will hold what Stroh said is a new fundraising event, called the Hands and Heart Auction, on April 12 at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. More information on the event can be found at the school’s website, waldorfschoolrf. com or by calling 963-1960.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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