WAITE PARK - Plans are in the works for a new elementary school in the St. Cloud metro area. The "Central Minnesota Montessori School" is scheduled to open next fall. Montessori emphasizes an independent way for the children to learn.

Spokeswoman Michelle Buehrer says - unlike the parochial schools - the school won't be religion based, but they will talk about Christian traditions.

We don't have religion as a curriculum, we just want to be able to talk about the story of Jesus around Christmas, and talk about the story of Jesus' rebirth around Easter as well.

Buehrer says tuition will be comparable to the parochial schools in town, around $5,500 for the school year. She says it's not a charter school and they won't be asking for any state tax dollars to run it.

Beuhrer says they won't be bound a lot of state education guidelines.

We didn't want to go the avenue of a charter school for that reason. Montessori doesn't do any testing that gets graded. The students are driven on their own desire to learn, and once they have succeeded a certain lesson that they have had they move on to the next one on their own pace. Although we do want to take at least one of the state's tests.

Beuhrer says they're hoping to start with one classroom of first through third grades, and eventually grow to add a classroom of fourth through sixth graders. They have a goal of 25-27 students next year.

Staff will include one head teacher, one assistant teacher, and a school secretary.

The St. Cloud area has several Montessori pre-schools, but this would be the first elementary school.

The school will likely be in the St. Joseph's Elementary School building in Waite Park.

If you'd like to learn more about the Central Minnesota Montessori School, there's an informational meeting Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library.