Monadnock Waldorf School

The Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene.

After more than four decades of providing a Waldorf education to countless students in the region, the Monadnock Waldorf School plans to close its doors at the end of this academic year, the school announced Sunday.

The announcement comes on the heels of news that a Waldorf-model public charter school plans to open next fall in Keene.

Monadnock Waldorf School Communications Manager Bridget Love said by email Sunday night that the new Waldorf-inspired charter school is “very much an independent development,” pointing to other reasons for the school’s decision to close.

In a news release Love issued Sunday, the school said it has “keenly felt the impact of shifting demographics” in the region: fewer school-age children, economic issues that make tuition a struggle for some young families and “a new landscape of school choice.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, the release says, “has intensified financial pressure on the school such that a sustainable path beyond the 2020-2021 school year is no longer feasible.”

The school began the new academic year this fall with full in-person instruction, but as coronavirus infection rates surged in New Hampshire, the school shifted to remote learning, as did most schools in the region.

Founded in 1976 as a “Waldorf-inspired” nursery school in Nelson, the Monadnock Waldorf School now serves about 95 students from preschool to middle school on two campuses in Keene: 424 Old Walpole Road and 98 South Lincoln St.

The new Gathering Waters charter school plans initially to serve students in grades 1 through 9 using Public Waldorf Education. The N.H. State Board of Education approved the new charter school Dec. 10.

Gabrielle Schuerman, chair of the Gathering Waters board of directors and parent of a child who attends the Monadnock Waldorf School, said in a previous interview that supporters of the new charter school are concerned about the financial inaccessibility of private Waldorf-model schools.

Love said Monadnock Waldorf School is “certainly pleased to know that MWS families who wish to continue with Waldorf education next year will have the option to do so.”

Founded in 1919 in Germany, Waldorf education aims to cultivate a child’s unique gifts and talents at a pace that meets the child’s physical, intellectual and emotional-spiritual development.