Santa Fe Prep to Buy Portion of Waldorf Property

Real-estate transaction would help shuttered Waldorf regroup and give Prep programs room to grow

Santa Fe Preparatory School will purchase part of the Santa Fe Waldorf School to accommodate higher-education programs if the two schools can agree to terms, school officials announced this week.

The Santa Fe Waldorf School Board of Trustees emailed parents and school alumni Jan. 9 declaring it had signed a letter of intent to negotiate selling a portion of Waldorf’s property to the other private school. Santa Fe Prep “submitted a significantly competitive bid” to buy the high school portion of Waldorf and the two schools are now negotiating the terms of the sale, the message says.

The announcement comes more than five months after the 40-year-old Santa Fe Waldorf School, known for its hands-on curriculum and outdoor learning program, unexpectedly closed its doors a few weeks before the start of the school year, with the board citing low enrollment as the primary cause.

“We still have work to do to get through inspections, but this is a huge step forward and light at the end of the tunnel,” the board’s email says.

For Santa Fe Prep, a college preparatory school serving 345 middle and high school students, the potential purchase of the high school property offers the possibility of growth. According to a Santa Fe Prep press release issued Jan. 11, the Waldorf property—about 4 miles away from Prep’s eastside campus—will accommodate two programs partnering with the school.

”Creating a larger home for Breakthrough Santa Fe and the Davis New Mexico Scholarship is in line with Santa Fe Prep’s long-term strategic plan and new capital campaign,” Santa Fe Prep Head of School Aaron Schubach says in the release. “There are no immediate plans to change Santa Fe Prep students’ experience; however, acquiring this property opens up many interesting long-term possibilities for the school and these two amazing programs.”

Santa Fe Prep collaborates with the two programs to help expand access to higher education in both the city and state. Dieu Ho, Breakthrough Santa Fe’s director, says in the release that the acquisition would benefit the program, which helps more than 215 low-income and first-generation students from Santa Fe Public Schools into higher education.

“Breakthrough Santa Fe is excited about the possibility of operating from the new campus,” she says. “This move will enhance our capacity to provide quality educational programming and support the academic aspirations of underserved students in our city.”

The report did not mention the dollar amount of the potential sale, and neither the board nor Santa Fe Prep responded to SFR’s request for comment on the bid amount. After finalizing the sale, both parties will have 90 days to close the deal after inspections, approvals and negotiations, they say.

“While the parties involved are optimistic about the potential acquisition, they acknowledge that there is still work to be done before the deal can be finalized,” Santa Fe Prep’s release concludes.

Though it may represent good news, the announcement from Waldorf does not answer a question many former parents at the school have asked: When will those who prepaid 2023-2024 tuition get their money back?

Parent Jeff Jedlowski confirmed to SFR as of Jan. 10 his family has not received a tuition refund, and he has not heard of any other families obtaining their refunds.

“The only thing that we have been getting as parents was weekly updates about how they can’t give us our money yet…and selling the school so they can re-open Waldorf, get Waldorf education back,” Jedlowski says. “It’s like, read the room, guys. You owe us thousands of dollars, you still haven’t given us any money, and you’re telling us about the future of Waldorf? This is ridiculous.”

Waldorf School has not publicly announced its plans for the future of the school, but the board recently sent a notice of intent to the Public Education Department to apply to become a public charter school, renamed to Sangre de Cristo Public Waldorf School and opening in the fall of 2025. The notice was signed by Jayita Sahni, Daniel Wendland, Matthew Burritt and Briana Bassler, all named as founders of the school.

“The closure of the Santa Fe Waldorf School forced many of its students to move to other public and private schools acoss Santa Fe County,” the notice says. “We have learned through our ongoing listening campaign that the desire for Waldorf education remains strong in our community, and we expect many of these former students and families to enroll in the lottery for the Sangre de Cristo Public Waldorf School…The pivot to a free Waldorf education model removes the cost barrier for many of these families.”

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