When Upattinas School began in 1971, the one thing we were clear about was that we did not intend to create an institution. We intended to create a model that might/could influence the public schools to create a better way to "educate" young people. We hoped that the three districts from which our children came in that first year would take a look and see that they could provide such places, perhaps not to take the place of their offerings, but to supplement them - offering an alternative to what already existed. We agreed that we would exist for as long as it seemed that we were needed in whatever place we were. Said by Jasper Brinton at the time - "We are an idea, not a place... a fertile playground...."
The time has come to take a hard look at this original idea and the realities that we face today.
- After graduation 2014, we will not have enough young people to sustain our school.
- At this point of the school year, unless the budgeted grant comes through, we do not have enough money to carry us into another year, indeed to the end of this year.
- Selling the property would "bail us out", but is not an indicator of our reality.
- Current staff is working at lower wages and for more hours than we can fairly pay them. We thank them and truly appreciate their dedication.
- In general, our people are struggling to pay the tuition, and our tuition cannot really go any higher. We are not an affluent group and we can no longer support the diversity that we have always hoped to represent.
- There are now many resources and alternatives to "regular public school" out there; and within many public schools there are more forward looking programs to serve those who need or want them. These are all either free or at very low cost.
It is time for the celebration of what we have been and of the legacy we leave to those who will go on to share what they have learned here, out there, wherever they are in the world. I think of so many who are teaching - breaking their hearts against the establishment for children they love. I think of those who are highly educated, writing courses and doing the kind of math I cannot even imagine in service to a better world. I think of all those young people I've known who are raising children with joy and peace in their families, passing on the ideas they learned here. I think of those who are giving of their lives in service to others who are in need; and I am grateful. And the artists - oh the artists - how much music and beauty are they sharing wherever they are? We must celebrate them all and remember that Upattinas has been an amazing and wonderful place for 43 years and will live in all of us forever.
But we must let go with grace and determination, so that the mourning and pain can have its place and be supplanted with that celebration, as we end this year. Of this, I am very sure:
It is time for Upattinas as we know it to close its doors.