Koch family's new private school to open in Wichita

August 26, 2018 - 11:24 am

A new Wichita private school financed by members of the Koch family is preparing to open its doors to preschool and elementary-age children this fall.

Wonder, a private pre-K-through-12th-grade school on the Wichita State University campus, will open Sept. 4 with 39 students, the Wichita Eagle reported. The school is funded by Chase and Annie Koch, the son and daughter-in-law of Koch Industries chief Charles Koch.

Plans call for phasing in the middle- and high-school programs over time. Founders have signed a preliminary lease for a larger site on the university's Innovation Campus.

Wonder incorporates facets of the "Maker movement" and other education innovations, such as project-based lessons that don't use traditional courses, subjects, grades or classrooms.

"Education can and should be something different," said Zach Lahn, Wonder's co-founder.

Students will spend half of their day in the school's design studio, which is a converted garage with a stage that opens onto an outdoor play area.

The first level, called Wonder One, is a Montessori-model preschool for 3- to 6-year-olds. An accordion glass wall separates the preschool from Wonder Two, a studio for 7- to 11-year-olds with standing desks and flexible seating.

Each student will get a MacBook Air laptop and the school will use iPads for augmented reality activities, Lahn said.

Tuition is $10,000 a year for elementary-age children and $6,500 a year for preschool students.

"We did not ask any family we met with if they could pay tuition," Lahn said. "We talked to them about what the school was, told them what the tuition was. But we've had numerous families ask us if we could do some sort of financial aid arrangement, and we've worked that out."

The school won't seek accreditation through the Kansas Department of Education, so it won't be required to follow state regulations, administer state tests or hire licensed teachers. Without accreditation, students' credits also wouldn't transfer automatically to other schools or universities.

But many colleges accept transcripts from students at non-accredited schools.

Lahn said Wonder plans to seek accreditation through the International Association of Learner-Driven Schools. He said he's confident it'll appeal to many colleges and potential employers.

Comments ()