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Santa Barbara’s Independent Schools Form Consortium

The group will host two information sessions — Oct. 20 for high school and Nov. 17 for kindergarten

Many of the admission directors of Santa Barbara’s independent schools have been quietly meeting during the past 20 years to share ideas, get feedback and offer moral support. What began as a very informal camaraderie among colleagues has evolved into a structured, organized professional consortium representing 16 independent schools in Santa Barbara County.

Official for just one year, the Santa Barbara Independent Schools, as the group has named itself, meets quarterly and has already produced an impressive Web site.

“The benefit the consortium brings is the ability of colleagues to collaborate for the greater good of the member schools and the applicants and students whom we serve,” said Joyce Balak, Laguna Blanca School’s director of admission and this year’s consortium chair. “Collectively we can affect a more positive impact on the community than any one school might do individually. We share data, review trends, collaborate on advertising, and generally keep each other abreast of new thoughts, ideas, protocols and issues facing independent schools.”

Debbie Williams, Crane Country Day School’s director of admissions, was instrumental in spearheading the Santa Barbara Independent School organization from the beginning.

“Santa Barbara is a unique community. We are a small town that offers a wide variety of private school options, from preschool to high school and everything in between,” she said. “No two schools are alike and we are hoping, with this association, to collectively extol the benefits of private school education and simplify the process for those applying.”

The other main goal is to advertise jointly in larger media outlets that the single schools otherwise couldn’t afford.

“The consortium brings to life the old adage that ‘more minds are better than one,’” Balak said.

An independent school is defined as a pre-collegiate, nonprofit learning institution governed by a board of trustees and supported by tuition revenue, charitable contributions and endowment income. There are more than 2,000 independent schools in the country, each with its own distinct mission, vision, values and methods of teaching. Accreditation standards for independent schools are rigorous and are validated by a national commission.

Benefits of an independent school education include high academic standards, guaranteed small class sizes, individualized attention, well-educated, loyal teachers, nurturing communities, involved parents and strong arts and athletics programs.

The consortium is sponsoring presentations for those interested in an independent school experience. High School Independent School Night will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20 in the La Cantina Room at Hotel Mar Monte. Kindergarten Independent School Night will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 in the Fleischmann Auditorium at the Museum of Natural History. Both events are free and open to the public.

Participating independent schools are Anacapa School, Bishop Garcia Diego High School, Crane Country Day School, Dunn School, El Montecito School, Family School, Howard School, Laguna Blanca School, Marymount of Santa Barbara, Midland School, Montessori Center School, Providence Hall, San Roque School, Santa Barbara Christian School, Santa Barbara Middle School and Santa Barbara Montessori School.

Click here for more information on any of the schools. For more information about the school nights, e-mail Debbie Williams at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Ann Pieramici represents Santa Barbara Independent Schools.

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