Hello dear community,
We are going to use the platform on the website to keep you updated on the various activities the board and initiative are working on. Please continue to check in at the beginning of each month to get your dose of EP Waldorf news!
Last week we held our first MGM (Monthly General Meeting) where we invited invested parents from the community to attend our board meeting as an open forum type discussion. It allowed for honest questions and feedback but more importantly it supported the board's desire to be transparent with the decisions being made to ensure our dreams of the school are successful.
We covered many topics during the 2 hour meeting including:
Changing of Priorities:
There is no doubt the impacts of the fire that tore through our school block in February are still being felt today. There are very few situations where the fire is not a ‘reason’ or indeed a reference point for a decision that is being made or as an explanation for a complete change of plan.
As the board consists of small numbers, we have clarified the priorities of our workload moving forward. It was a hard decision to let go of a number of other projects in order to clear the way for us to work more efficiently on what we believe will get us closer to building the school. At this point, as a board we are focusing on 4 main priorities; the development application which will allow us to develop the school block, school registration, the location of the school offsite in order for us to open next year and the overarching priority that underpins every single one of these other priorities is fundraising.
The School Block/Development Application:
Despite our investigations into finding a suitable school site offsite, the school block is still getting its fair share of attention. While the other activities are occurring, we are continuing with our development application, which will allow us to develop the land. We will also submit a building application which will provide permission to build on the block. Both are significant in their own rights, both financially and the input of time, providing us with an opportunity to allow this project to continue in the background while our focus can be on other projects in between.
Once we open the school offsite, we will receive recurrent funding from the government. We will use that money, plus fundraising and donations to build on the school block as our forever school home. Sounds simple, right? Not so, however in principle it is simple and has enabled us to see our future clearly, making the school feel like a very real possibility and it feels closer than it ever has.
In the meantime we are working on ways we may be able to maintain the connection to the block. Some ideas were, a community garden, laying chickens, bio dynamic composting, all of which would also tie into opportunities to raise funds. Any ideas on this would be greatly received.
It has become clear the need to keep many projects moving along at the same time as they all interconnect and without one aspect of them coming to fruition, the others are also not achievable. School registration is no different, although we are still finding an appropriate offsite school location, we are needing to submit our intent to register to the Education Standards Board (ESB). Once this has occurred we will continue to meet the requirements of the board in order to achieve the official school registration once we have the site confirmed as well as gaining financial viability.
In order to meet the requirements of the ESB, we must be able to prove we are able to remain financially viable until such time as the recurrent funding is paid by the government. Throughout the meeting we discussed a number of ways this may be achieved, such as seeking a donor who would be willing to pay the wages of the teacher/s as a tax deductible donation, upfront school fees, fundraising ideas etc.
Ultimately, once the school site is confirmed and the funds obtained we are significantly closer to opening the school next year.
At this point, donations made to us are not tax deductible, however once we are a registered school, they will be. School registration is important to our journey on many levels. As I mentioned above, if we could find a beneficiary who would be willing to donate money towards our ongoing costs as a school to assist us with our initial financial costs while we wait for the recurrent funding, those financial contributions would be tax deductible as the money would only be paid after we are registered. Without those pledges however, we will need the money in the bank as a lump sum (and no donations would be tax deductible).
Location of School:
We have a number of options for offsite school locations. All of which are works in progress and require a huge level of negotiation. We are not disregarding any option at this point and are really thinking outside the box. We are encouraged by the story of Port Macquarie Steiner School who commenced their school journey in a church with just five students only three years ago. Each day the parents and students would pack up the school resources for the church to be used for other activities, but it gave them a space and an option to start.
As I have mentioned throughout this blog, we require a significant amount of money in order to open the doors of our school. We have therefore confirmed the following upcoming fundraising events; Quiz Night (21st July), Movie Night (November) and numerous Bunnings Sausage Sizzles.
The board meeting discussed a number of other potential fundraisers; selling firewood, selling laying chickens and growing fruit trees from clippings for next spring. Again, volunteers and ideas are greatly appreciated!
At this point, the board has decided to pause playgroup due to a number of reasons. The main reason is it is extremely resource heavy, it requires the capacity of a whole board member to manage it. When our ultimate goal remains the school, we must stay focused on what our dreams hold. Playgroup also operates at a significant financial loss, we were not able to justify this, given our desire to make strides in the school building space. This was a decision that weighed heavily on our hearts as we are also parents who have enjoyed playgroup sessions with our children. We understand it makes it challenging for families to stay a part of this journey and you may feel disconnected from the community; we are aware of this and feel this disconnection also. We hope to again be sharing these beautiful times with you and your children soon, however appreciate your understanding while we put all our forces towards creating the school.
There are a number of financial priorities, all of which have been outlined here on our website under the ‘School and Playgroup’ tab. We will update these numbers as they change in order to keep our community informed and the board transparent.
We found the open meeting forum to be exciting and all the things we had hoped for. It brought with it unique and different perspectives, a vibrant and fruitful discussion and we warmly invite anyone who would like to join us at our next MGM on the 24th July at 10am at the library community room to please do so! Bring along your ideas, questions and discussion points, we would love to hear them!
That is all from me for now.