No. BYI is registered as a non-public school with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). BYI does not receive funding from the state to operate, except where we may apply for and receive grant funds available to non-public schools.
BYI has a unique no-set-tuition model. Families are required to pay a set minimum fee and then contribute towards the needs of the school: faculty/staff, supplies, materials. This allows students of modest means the same access as those with financial abundance and keeps costs affordable for families in the middle. With independent high school tuitions starting in the mid $20K area, we aim to keep our costs low, focusing on the intellectual content, character transformation and service opportunities that engage the Baltimore region as our learning environment.
We believe the community will back a school that takes such a bold approach towards learning, transformation and service.
Last year, our operating costs averaged about 10,000 per student with 2/3 covered by parents and 1/3 through donations.
BYI will apply for accreditation as soon as possible, which means no earlier than the spring or fall of 2015. Independent schools must be in operation a minimum of 3 years to seek accreditation from the Association of Independent Maryland Schools. It usually takes longer to begin the process for accreditation with the national organization responsible for accrediting Waldorf Schools.
BYI is not a Waldorf School. BYI is inspired by the innovative work of Rudolf Steiner and the results achieved at the Waldorf School of Baltimore's Upper School during its five year run. We are further inspired by the efforts of our partner school, the Youth Initiative High School, and a host of other independent Waldorf High Schools which have survived the transition to stand alone entities.
We are not yet a member of AWSNA, the national body responsible for holding the integrity of Waldorf Education in North America. When we have settled the form and governance of the school, and received regional accreditation, the school community will determine whether or not they wish to formally become a Waldorf school. Until we have joined and established a relationship with AWSNA, we cannot use any of their trademarked phrases to describe our school and cannot use Waldorf-inspired or Rudolf Steiner-inspired in our name or tagline.
We are also inspired and guided by other frameworks, including cutting edge neurological research on how young brains and bodies develop and process information and cutting edge educational strategies, such as what the government of Finland has done, which resulted in education contributing to ameliorate poverty. We are emboldened by the transformative learning movement and find their research resonates with our experiences. We agree with the call for transforming the work-load of school championed by the Race to Nowhere coalition. We acknowledge that the Gallup Student Poll results on hope, engagement and well-being should inform what our schools look like and how they operate. Our social justice and equity focus comes directly from our partnership with Equity Matters, our fiscal sponsor. Our intention to minimize the disparities between the economically and socially privileged and the rest of society and maintain policies like our no-set-tuition approach are inspired by social principles from diverse secular and religious philosophies, including the work of the American Friends Service Committee, the Baha'i International Community, the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and other communities both secular and spiritual--who promote universal education and the elimination all forms of prejudice and of extremes of wealth and poverty as prerequisites for world peace and note the pre-eminence of transforming character over content knowledge as a critical component for academic excellence.
Most of all, we are inspired by those motivated and empowered youth, open and flexible families and courageous faculty who have dared to dream big enough to start a school during uncertain times.
Indeed! We think this approach benefits for all youth, even though our particular version is aimed at highly motivated and inspired students. It is an arena that is currently forming and coming into being. To become actively involved in exploring ways to transform both the high school educational environment and the youth and adults who work in those environments, you can join our online community: Transformational High Schools.