With re-enrollment starting last week, I've fielded several questions via email, on Facebook, and face-to-face pertaining to our future plans. Most of these concerns have come from our more southernly-located families, particularly with regard to Phase II of The Academy, the phase the board and I anticipated would be the most difficult for our southern families in our attempt to merge Providence Hall and Veritas.
In an effort to continue the discussion about The Academy,
I'd like to invite parents to attend one of four Campus Coffees in the
next two weeks. Dates, times, and locations are posted, so let us know you'll be coming.
In recent communication, a long-time Veritas parent mentioned that her Norman family had been through five changes of administration and that the promise of a Norman school had been communicated. Indeed, when Veritas started in 2004, the board's vision was for only Norman (hence the legally incorporated name of Veritas Classical Academy of Norman).
However, from 2008-2010, Veritas outgrew Trinity Baptist in Norman after year four of the school. Crossroads was a big church that could host us and, by being close to I-35, was still accessible to Norman families. At the time, the board saw the move as temporary until we could afford to build our own place somewhere on the far north edge of Norman, like near Hillsdale College.
Crossroads also made VCA more accessible to families who either were already coming or were interested in coming from the greater OKC metro. In time, the board saw the move as a great blessing, both because they saw how we could reach more families by being located closer to OKC and also preserve the long-term viability of the school by being able to draw from a greater people and financial pool. Still though, and especially with Providence Hall's location in north OKC, our board saw us as primarily a Norman/Moore/south OKC school, with talk of having grammar campuses embedded in those local communities, including Norman.
When I came to Veritas in June 2011, plans had already been in the works to start the North campus after families there expressed an interest in having something closer to home. North families raised up people and resources to make the campus happen, and the board saw the North campus as a way to extend the vision to incorporate more of the greater OKC metro, as well as to help fund the current Upper School, then even less populated than our current (and growing) 80 6th-12th graders today.
At the Constructing the Vision banquet last March, I first presented the idea of the learning cottage campus, mentioning that, if we were to only build a Grammar campus first, it would most likely be in the south to take some pressure off our Crossroads campus. If we built a full PreK-12th campus, I tried to be careful to explain that we hoped to land close to where we were in the Crossroads area, as our goal was to have north and south campuses, but neither in Edmond or Norman proper. Both of these scenarios, I reiterated, were just two of multiple possible starting points, depending on money raised, land found, and system-wide realities regarding growth.
Unfortunately, part of the current feeling of displacement for south/central families comes from Crossroads' timing in letting us know they would not be renewing our contract next year. While Phase II of the plan would still be a stumbling block for some, it might not have made as huge of an impact (at least initially) without the insecurity that some feel not yet having a location for next year. If anything, with The Academy rolling out and the only current known location being in far north OKC, I empathize that this probably felt like a double-whammy to Norman families, which was unfortunate for all of us.
I can see why a long-term-VCA family from Norman would feel like being expected to drive 30-40 minutes to a north OKC campus might seem dismissive of prior years of sacrifice and just another expectation to sacrifice for families in the north. Keep in mind, though, that Upper School North families will be doing the same thing the other direction – possibly for multiple years – beginning with Phase III and the establishment of our south learning cottage campus, which we are working to do everything we can to ensure that that happens.
While the board and I strongly believe in the idea of The Academy, we are still working out many of the implementation particulars as we look closely at the details. We think we have a good vision and a plan to fulfill it, but definitely feel we can have additional dialogue about how we stay true to the overall mission while still providing for our south families. As mentioned, while we have thought through dozens of scenarios, none of us has the perspective that we have exhausted them all. We want to take seriously every possible idea that has a real chance of making sense for all involved, so please continue to think with us as we work toward the best solutions.