The founder of a struggling downtown private school on Friday sought to reassure parents and rebut a former school official about the future of the Atlanta New Century School.
New Century's board of trustees will meet privately with the school's parents and staff early next week to review their plans to continue operating the school, said Cole Walker, who now lives in Huntsville, Ala., but has been consulted by board members.
The school's assets, including "the name, the materials, the teaching supplies, the school building," are all controlled under incorporation by the board, Walker said.
"An employee transition has unnecessarily been a distraction to the mission of the school," Walker said. "But the school will continue to go forward as it has for the last 15 years."
Earlier this week, Angela Edmond, who took the day-to-day reins from Walker before he moved four years ago, announced that the school would continue under her leadership with a new name at its current location.
The announcement, made on the school's Web site, came after New Century officials acknowledged to parents it had financial problems.
It also came as a board member, who declined to be identified, said Edmond was no longer with the school and that New Century is not affiliated with Edmond's new school.
On Friday, Edmond declined an interview request and said she was in discussions with her attorney.
Walker said the school through its attorneys was working to "reclaim" the Web site, which Friday still showed Edmond's statement announcing the new Atlanta International Preparatory Academy.
So what's next for New Century?
Walker has attributed the school's money woes to its move last year to a new facility on Ralph McGill Boulevard that "wound up being more expensive than anticipated."
Parents won't talk publicly about the turmoil —- school officials met with them Monday and asked that the discussion be kept confidential —- but several privately have expressed concerns about staying with New Century.
Those concerns have nothing to do with the school's academic program, which they laud. The school offers multi-age classes that allow children to move at their own pace.
Rather, they want assurance that the school can continue to operate and regain its financial stability.
The school enrolls about 100 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade and has about 20 staffers. Its struggle to remain financially viable —- tuition three years ago was $8,950, less than many established private schools but still more than some families could afford —- underscores how much money and time it takes to build a private school from scratch.
Walker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2006 that he had spent "six figures" on New Century every year since it opened.
This week, he said his financial support has continued despite his move.
Walker said Friday that the events involving the school this week was "saddening and disturbing, [but] things that are worth having are worth fighting for."
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