“Three years ago.” Kathie mused staring out of her study window whilst sipping on a coffee. So much had happened since that time, the year that she and Nancy had first taken over as heads of the Chalet School.
The Maynard’s were now settled in the UK, near the school branch there. Joey remained unpredictable but was now home permanently. Jack had got a job at the Welsh San, he had not wanted to be in charge any more, and Jem had agreed with him. So he was on a lower less stressful job and happier because of it. Joey didn’t really understand, still thinking he was in his old job, but Joey would never again fully understand reality and the family lived and coped with it.
Len and Ted were still happily together and both proving to be very good teachers with different styles. However, Len had indicated to Kathie one day that they may move back to the UK, Felicity was in her last year and after that there was nothing in Switzerland for them anymore. They were ambitious and wanted to move on and up and Kathie could not fault them for that.
There were big changes ahead for the Chalet School though, ones only she and Nancy in the school as yet knew about. Long discussions with Madge had led to the decision that, due to increasing costs, the Swiss branch would close but the Welsh branch would remain, and enlarge if the demand was there. Madge had assured the pair that they would be the heads there if they wanted it as the present head had indicated that it was time for her to retire.
So this new school year would be the last, the parents were going to be told, the school would be told and plans made for the future. St.Mildreds had always going to close this year, the demand had gone, and although it had been considered changing its use they had felt that the rising costs had made this unworkable. New pupils had been accepted on the condition it was for one year only and perhaps surprisingly, there had still been some joining.
Madge was going to announce it to the staff later today, plans were to be made, reassurances about people’s futures, and ensuring those pupils taking exams would be able to do so seamlessly. A lot to decide and work out, thought Kathie, a busy year ahead. Nancy and her had agreed between themselves that they would accept the headship of the Welsh branch and that in itself would bring challenges. Her mind went back to when Madge had promoted her to head and the difficulties it had caused with Ruth, would there be the same issues again in Wales. The senior mistress there was Nell Randolph who Kathie knew from college, and had made her mind up that she would talk to her privately about the changes. Of course, there was also the issue of how well she and Nancy would work together in the same building if necessary. Kathie didn’t believe it would be an problem but it was another thing to consider and to talk about.
Madge intended to expand Glendower House, build a new sixth form unit for older girls wishing to specialise and thus also ensuring the jobs of at least some of her staff. If that happened Kathie believed she would be running that, hopefully with Nell Randolph, and Nancy and Ros running the main school, her and Nancy supporting each other as always. That would be a good solution she thought as she finished her coffee, but there was a lot to decide and not a great deal of time in which to do it.
Nancy was a little dubious about the move but realised it would have to happen. Madge had indicated that the headship in Wales came with a cottage that would be ideal for her and Kathie, and that there was no requirement for the heads to actually live in the main school building as long as they were close. It was the change that bothered Nancy, she had never fully recovered her confidence over the business with Rosalie’s illness, it had shaken her badly even though she knew it was not her fault. Knowing that didn’t help because deep down she still felt it was and that was a hard feeling to get rid of. Older than Kathie and more conservative she felt the move more than her younger partner.
All the teachers were back, the girls not expected for another two days. Madge had arranged escorts this time so that she could have all her staff there from both of the schools, Millies and the main one, and could give the news to all at the same time. The staff were naturally curious about the why of this but secretly were quite happy to have only been responsible for getting themselves there and not also a bunch of teenagers.
Madge prepared herself for the meeting, she knew it would be a shock to some, perhaps a relief to others. What she wanted to ensure the best that she could is that none of her staff lost their jobs if they wanted to remain with the school. The reduction in running costs would help bolster any extra costs involved in doing that and she was committed to it. She felt people like Matey would retire, especially since her friends would be back in the UK making it easier and less lonely for her. Matey probably didn’t realise Madge knew that but Madge knew a lot more about her staff these days. The Platz and surrounding areas were starting to be known for skiing, and, as one of the largest buildings there she had already received a provisional, and very good offer, from a hotel chain who were also interested in Millies. She was in discussions with them, one thing she wanted to ensure was that her domestic staff, mostly local, would not lose out but would gain employment, if they wanted it, from the hotel.
So much to do Madge thought yet she was looking forward to it. The business with Joey all those years ago had revitalised her, kicked her away from just doing good deeds, worthwhile though they were, and made her take much more notice of her school and business. She felt positive about the move, Millies had already been slated to close at the end of the year and it seemed a good time to move the main school as well. Increasing living and travel costs were making the school fees too high, even though she was subsidising them, and she felt it was the right time. She knew Kathie was keen, Nancy less so but also knew she could rely on her to do all she could to help. With Nell and Hilda on board as well she was confident many of the potential snags would be ironed out. She was wanting, depending on the responses from parents, to expand the school in Wales, perhaps even build a new unit. Glendower House had a lot of land, much of it just garden and after making enquiries she believed she would get the necessary planning permission. So far so good she thought with a satisfied nod.
She faced the assembled staff in the hall, flanked by Nancy and Kathie and made the announcement.
“Ladies, we are coming to a change in the Chalet School, hopefully a change for the better, and I will answer all your questions. “She paused, the staff sat up, all curious, some anxious, waiting for her next words.
“The Chalet School in Switzerland will be closing at the end of this school year.”