The EcoVillage school opened for its second year with 99 students in four elementary grades and preschool. Completion this summer of the 3rd classroom has allowed expansion of two more grades and hiring of additional teachers for those grades.
Growth of enrollment is an important step toward financial independence for the school. Still, there are many older students who do not attend school or who walk 2 ½ hours each way to the nearest school. Additional grades will allow the school to bring in these older children and allow parents to send all of their kids to the same, nearby school. When this happens, parents will channel all of their tuition and volunteer hours toward the EcoVillage school.
Another critical revenue stream is the development of the school farm lands. According to our partners at MPP, banana and plantain trees have been planted, and the Parents Committee has harvested beans and peanuts, which were the first planting this summer. Our partnership has funded the development of the farm, which will raise funds for the school and produce for children’s lunches. Beginning 2016, the farm will contribute funds toward operation of the school.
Gordon French, co-chair of the Atlanta Church Group, notes the important progress made this year. “Our goal is for the EcoVillage school to be financially self-sufficient by the time our 5-year commitment is completed at the end of 2018. To achieve that, three things are happening simultaneously. First, classrooms are being built so that, secondly, enrollment can grow (eventually to cover all 12 grades) and thirdly, the farm lands are being planted so that harvests can go to market to subsidize the school. As we develop budgets and plans for 2016, these will be our goals.”