AltSchool Private School Network Expands to Chicago

Published January 18, 2016

A network of small private schools called AltSchool, founded by a former Google executive, is expanding to Chicago in fall 2017.

Illinois would become the third state with an AltSchool.

The schools were founded by Max Ventilla, a former Google executive who now is CEO of AltSchool. Investors in AltSchool reportedly include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has reportedly contributed $100 million. AltSchool currently has campuses in California cities San Francisco and Palo Alto and in New York City.

A “micro-school” philosophy keeps schools to about 80–150 students, which AltSchool says allows for a more flexible and personalized educational experience than a traditional school environment.

Charles Sahm, director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, says the idea of smaller schools is nothing new in his state.

Sahm says New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg closed more than 150 schools and opened more than 650 new, smaller schools in their place during his tenure from 2002–13, and the high school graduation rates in New York City rose over the same period. The class of 2002 had a graduation rate of 50.8 percent, whereas the class of 2013 had a graduation rate of 71.4 percent, according to the New York City Department of Education.

Sahm says the idea of start-up private schools such as AltSchool is fine for those who can afford the tuition. AltSchool’s tuition ranges from $2,625 to $3,150 per month, with a 10-month minimum. 

AltSchool has four schools in San Francisco, one in Palo Alto, and one in Brooklyn. The organization has plans to open three more schools in San Francisco and one more in New York in fall 2016.

Tom Gantert ([email protected]) is senior capitol correspondent for Michigan Capitol Confidential, a daily news site of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Image by TechCrunch.