SAN ANGELO, TX — Ambleside School in San Angelo is closing, principals told parents in a letter Monday. Ambleside Council was unable to overcome a funding shortfall of $200,000, the letter says.
The directors of Ambleside organize fundraisers throughout the year to finance the school. The last hope, according to the letter, was San Angelo Gives’ annual citywide online fundraising campaign. Ambleside attracted just $41,120 in donations, according to the San Angelo Area Foundation ranking. Four schools ahead of Ambleside in the May 3 event raised six figures, with Cornerstone Christian School raising the most, at $301,646.
“Thanks to Art Spring, San Angelo Gives and significant family contributions, we have reduced this deficit slightly, but projections show we will continue to face this deficit,” the Ambleside council wrote to parents.
The board has already taken drastic action to tackle the funding shortfall, including cutting teaching staff, combining some classes and raising tuition fees. Continuing to take these steps will likely lead to declining enrollment due to higher tuition fees and teacher burnout, the board wrote.
Ambleside Council wrote that Cornerstone Christian School will be accepting pupils for the next school year and will endeavor to hire as many Ambleside teachers as possible. The effort is a “membership” of schools, the board wrote.
“We’re saddened to have to take this step, but hope for everything we gain at Cornerstone, such as extracurricular activities, athletics, library, STEM lab, robotics, and opportunities for students to participate in the National Honor Society and UIL,” the board wrote to parents.
Ambleside of San Angelo is part of a worldwide network of schools called Ambleside Schools International.
“Ambleside Schools International trains and educates according to the principles that Charlotte Mason has outlined in her six-volume series on education. Ambleside teachers and principals participate in these readings each year; therefore, their relationships with students and text exemplify the philosophy and pedagogy of this British educator, author and woman of faith in the everyday Ambleside classroom,” according to the Ambleside Schools website.
Mason (1842-1923) of Ambleside, England, was a prolific educator who in many ways revolutionized teaching methods at the start of the Industrial Revolution. She advocated for a faith-based Christian curriculum that fulfilled her mottos “Education is Atmosphere, Discipline, Life” and “Education is the Science of Relationships”.
Parents can always find home study programs that incorporate Mason’s methodologies available.
However, for parents who desire a school-like atmosphere, Cornerstone Christian School aims to continue to offer small student-teacher ratios. The Ambleside board noted that Cornerstone’s ratio is 15 to 1 and that 18 to 1 is likely Cornerstone’s maximum ratio.