The American Spectator this week profiled the Thales Academy schools – a chain of private schools operated by Civitas Board Chairman Bob Luddy.
Thales represents how educational entrepreneurs can offer a high quality education that’s affordable to children from all spectrums of the income scale. The rapid growth of Thales Academy schools shows the rising demand for families eager to find alternatives to traditional government schools that are failing too many of our children. Some highlights from the article:
Although Wake County boasts some of the best public schools in the nation (a point that local residents will debate endlessly), Thales Academy has local public-school zealots in a tizzy. The combination of quality instruction and comparatively inexpensive tuition are the main driving factors in its growth. Parents here in Wake County are on waiting lists for magnet and charter schools. Demand far exceeds supply.
It’s not hard to see, too, how Thales Academy differs from other private schools. Thales costs $5,300 per year for kindergarten through fifth grade and $6,000 per year for sixth through 12th grades. That’s a standout deal, particularly for high school. Estimates peg the average high-school private-school tuition at $11,220 per year.
Thales is the brainchild of Robert Luddy, an entrepreneur and owner of CaptiveAire, a manufacturer of kitchen ventilation systems. The genesis of the school came about when long waiting lines at Franklin Academy — Luddy’s charter school — elicited the need for a more creative solution.
While the average to build a new high school in Wake County approaches the $100 million mark, the cost of an average Thales Academy (building and land) is only $4 million for a K-5 school on four acres and $10 million for a 6-12 school on 10 acres.
The 6-12 grade schools include a soccer field and gymnasium, but Thales leaders purposefully keep extraneous costs to a minimum. Kent Misegades, director of development for Thales, notes that eliminating the extraneous frills common in public schools — such as cafeterias, large athletic fields, mini-stadiums, huge parking lots, and bus transportation — keep costs under control. He estimates that, overall, Thales’ operating costs are 40 percent less than those of the Wake County Public School System.
To learn more about Thales Academy schools – click here.