Parents fighting to save Country Day in Guanacaste

A parent group at Country Day School Guanacaste plans to take over the facility when the current owner leaves. But they face a Friday deadline in raising the remainder of the money they need.

The school in Brasilito is the Pacific version of the prestigious 50-year-old institution in Escazú. The family of Woodson C. Brown founded the Guanacaste facility in 2000. Now, parents say, Brown is ready to close down the school for personal reasons.

To keep that from happening, a parent group has been raising funds and negotiating with the Brown family.

There are more than 20 teachers at the Guanacaste location. All are certified professionals. There also are a handful of support staff members. They have been told that the school is closing, according to Jeff Ruzicka, a local businessman who has two children in the school.

Some parents are anxious to keep a school that holds accreditation by the U.S. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. That accreditation allows successful graduates to attend colleges and universities in the United States as if they were educated there.

“If our community loses this valuable asset, Guanacaste becomes a much less attractive destination for families to take up residence, thus reducing the value of our entire community, negatively impacting property values and community businesses,” said the parent group in an email report.

The school year at Country Day is similar to the United States. Classes end in June, and there is a two-month break. Classes are from pre-kindergarten to the U.S. 12th grade, the last year in high school. Proposed tuition can be as high as $10,500, but there are discounts for families with more than one child and for other factors. Also the parents envision continuing a scholarship program for eligible Costa Rican children.

The parents are seeking to formalize a board of directors and to set up a non-profit entity.

Already the parent group has obtained pledges for more than $200,000, according to the email message and Ruzicka. But the email also estimated that to keep the school in the black, the new board will need about $500,000 in addition to tuitions for the coming school year.

The parents hope to keep many of the same teachers and lease the school facility at a reasonable rate from the Browns.

Some parents said they believe that the main reason for closing the school is that it has not been a profitable venture.

Ruzicka said that the Friday deadline might be flexible because negotiations with the Brown family has been cordial. Still, he said the parents hope for some donations and grants from large businesses and individuals with an interest in Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.

Ruzicka said that the community is invited to a fund-raising informational meeting at 8 a.m. Friday at the school.

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