With fall classes around the corner, San Francisco's Marin Preparatory School has had a bigger challenge than most grammar institutions: coping with its headmaster's abrupt departure and losing half the incoming first-grade class to his new rival school.
So far, the resignation of Ed Walters in May appears to have had a galvanizing effect on Marin Prep. All three of the school's kindergarten teachers stayed, and the four incoming first-graders remaining from a class of a dozen have been joined by at least three new classmates. In addition to the six students who went to the rival school, two of last year's kindergarteners moved this year to schools elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Marin Prep—which started as just a single kindergarten class in 2009—now has four classes including kindergarten, "junior" kindergarten—which acts as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten in some schools—and first grade, totaling 33 students. Eventually, the school in San Francisco's Castro district plans to grow to a K-8 campus with as many as 250 students.
"The reality is a school is much more than one person," says Melinda Kanter-Levy, co-founder of the Marin Day Schools system, a company that runs preschools and child-care centers and that established Marin Prep.
Mr. Walters didn't return calls seeking comment. Officials at his new employer, the just-opened Alta Vista School in the Mission District, also didn't respond to calls and emails.
The flap at Marin Prep underscores the competitive nature of private schools in San Francisco. With many parents dissatisfied with San Francisco's public school system, many opt to put their children in private schools, creating one of the higher ratios of privately taught students in the country. Around 30% of the city's students are enrolled in private institutions versus 8% statewide, according to the California Department of Education.
That demand for private schools can lead to more new private institutions being created—and ensuing troubles like the poaching of experienced school personnel like Mr. Walters. Some schools have also complained of student prospects being poached by rivals.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
WSJ: Private School Regroups After Leader's Departure
This from the Wall Street Journal: