An urgent message from the new board chairman of Wakefield Country Day School, Paul F. Larner, was sent out tonight to the WCDS community.
“May 5, 2019 URGENT!” it begins.
“You may have received prior emails from me or others that Wakefield Country Day School is on the verge of closing. The WCDS Board plans to announce a final decision on that subject tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Cowherd Auditorium. Let’s not let WCDS close! These are urgent circumstances requiring urgent measures.
“To date we have received approximately $500,000 in a variety of forms including pledges, contributions and loans. This is an astonishing outpouring of support in less than one week. But we do need more, and some big donors want to see more from Wakefield Alumni and Friends before they finalize their commitments. As members of the WCDS Family, you are and should be its most powerful supporters.
“This email notice will go to approximately 1,250 of you. If all of you were to contribute $1,000 we would receive $1,250,000. I know that may not happen. But my example shows the power of numbers — something you probably learned at Wakefield. With all of you contributing $500 WCDS receives $625,000 and at $250 WCDS gets $312,500.
“WCDS needs from you all you can give, but at least $250,000 in the next 24 hours. Think of what WCDS did for you and what that means to you today. Please open your heart, mind and wallet to help us, and donate what you can afford to keep WCDS open. If we can survive this immediate funding crisis there are a host of people — teachers, parents, benefactors, and volunteers who will work tirelessly over the next 12 months to put WCDS back onto a sustainable, long term future.
“At this urgent moment the Board cannot make its decision based only on pledges. We must have actual donations by going to https://wcdsva.org/save-wcds/. If WCDS does not operate next year we will return your donation to you less the applicable credit card charges approximately 5 percent . . .With your generous help we cannot fail; without it I am not sure we can succeed.”
In a two-page letter on April 24 to the school community, the WCDS board stated that despite 22 months of diligent efforts “we have not been successful . . . garnering additional funding to offset our enrollment loss,” thus the private school in Flint Hill faced closure.
“In February it looked as if we had a number of new domestic students and international students in the pipeline that would ensure more stability next year, but within the past two weeks it has become apparent that our numbers are not going to rebound and could be even lower than they are this year,” the board wrote.
“Thus, after reviewing every possible option, the only responsible decision the Board can make, in the absence of a sudden influx of capital before May 9, 2019 from the Auction [this past Saturday], the Give Local Piedmont [Tuesday, May 7], and an outpouring of donations from friends of Wakefield near and far, is to close Wakefield Country Day School at the end of this academic year.”
The letter concluded: “Needless to say, we are heartbroken by the decision we have had to make. This was not a decision that we took lightly.”