Year 5 'State of the School' letter
Dear IMS Families,
We are currently celebrating our 5th year as a Charter School! For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, you know it’s been quite the journey for our little non-profit. You’ll remember those very early days worrying if our converted church would be ready for our grand opening. You’ll remember the parent work sessions that cleared our oak forest and created our rolling hills playground. You’ll remember our passionate discussions about creating a middle school and the tremendous parent fundraising effort that made it possible. In just five years, we have doubled the size of our campus, added three grades, built three buildings, bought two buses, and moved our Children’s School up from Carolina Beach!
The story of our first half decade has been GROWTH! Growth in students and faculty. Growth in land and buildings. Growth in community and culture. And most importantly, growth in educational opportunity for our children.
Five years is a natural point of reflection. We look back and appreciate all we’ve accomplished, but also look forward and dream. The board and staff have been doing this formally by way of updating our five-year Strategic Plan (2018-23 Strategic plan - review draft). For those of you unfamiliar with this delightful planning process, we dream, and dream big, but then we get specific and put pencil to paper to see what’s feasible. This plan will guide what becomes of Island Montessori in the coming years, and if I had to sum it up in a nutshell, the story of our next five years will be:
Don’t get me wrong, we are already a strong school, but when it comes to the education of our children, there should be no room for complacency. I am very proud that Brian, Lara, Alicia, Melinda and our staff are so driven to improve. I am also excited that for the first time in our history, the full attention and resources of staff and the board will be fully focused on academics. We have grouped our initiatives into four categories: Investment in Advanced Teacher Education, Investment in Academic Programming, Investment in Technology, and Investment in our Montessori Environment. They are briefly described in this 3-page summary. I strongly encourage you to invest a few minutes to read and study this document.
But feasible is the key word. As you may or may not know, traditional public schools and charter schools receive the same funding to educate students. However, there is an important distinction. Traditional public schools are granted physical space by the County, so they do not have to account for rent and mortgage expenses. That comes out to about $1500 per student (2nd only to personnel) which would have otherwise been spent on education. I am often asked how a charter school overcomes such a disadvantage to be as educationally successful as Island Montessori has. The answer is a smart and resourceful staff, plus thousands of volunteer hours from dedicated parents and the Board.
Part of this answer is also, of course, fundraising and grants. Over our first five years, we have benefited from the efforts of our hard-working and resourceful FSA, Turtle Trot Committee, Grant Committee, and parents at-large. Coming together for fundraising is a big part of our community! But as we put pencil to paper with our five year plan, it has become apparent if we are going to reach for our dreams, we are going to have to raise more funds.
Our goal for the remainder of the 2017-18 academic year is to raise an additional $40,000. Our ability to reach this goal will determine the feasibility of our academic aspirations. That roughly comes out to $175-200 per student. Of course, each family’s financial situation is unique and this amount may be more possible for some than others. Some may give more. Some may give less or nothing. Some may prefer to contribute their valuable time.
As a parent, I try to put the value of our children’s education into perspective. In a national survey of Montessori schools in 2009-2010, Montessori tuition averaged $8,000 - $10,000 a year (I imagine it is now in the teens). Locally, private school tuition ranges from $7,000 into the high teens. So when I think about giving a couple hundred dollars a year, which comes out to $15 to $20 a month, Island Montessori School seems like a tremendous value.
We encourage you to come learn more and ask questions at our 2018-23 Academic Strategy Presentation + Parent Q&A on Tuesday, February 27th at 6pm. Childcare and healthy snacks will be provided.
We hope you will consider an ongoing monetary investment in your children’s future. This year we are also blessed that a generous anonymous donor has stepped forward with a donation matching program. Any donation you make between now and March will be matched dollar-for-dollar. (Additionally, many companies offer to match the charitable donations of their employees. Please check to see if you work for such a company.)
Please visit www.im.school/donate to find convenient options to make a one-time donation or start a smaller recurring monthly donation. Of course, you can always drop a check off at the front desk. Island Montessori is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, which means your donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks to all of you who have put such tremendous effort into building our school over the last five years. We appreciate you taking the time to read this letter (and the accompanying 3-page academic summary) and considering further support of our school as we write our next exciting chapter.
President, Board of Directors