The city's newest private school will open for instruction next fall now that enough students have enrolled in the Meridian School program, the head of the school says.

The Meridian School will replace the Waterford School, located at 931 E. Third North, and will be similar to the Waterford model of instruction."We are going ahead on the presumption that the school will open," said Headmaster Hal Miller. "We are interviewing faculty members and making other plans. We will be offering teacher contracts in the next week."

Miller and other members of the school's board of trustees met with the public last week to gauge resident interest in the school formation.

About 140 students have enrolled since then, and Miller said they expect another 100 to enroll.

The new school - a non-profit organization - was formed by several Brigham Young University professors, local businessmen and parents of children currently enrolled at Waterford and operates under a board of volunteer trustees.

"Many of us whose children attend Waterford want the experience to continue," said Miller, who is also associate dean of honors and general education at BYU.

Dr. Val Dunn, an American Fork physician, said, "Here we are not afraid to try something new and something better. It is going to succeed because of parents who care and demand the best for their children."

Tuition - at $2,500 for the first student from a family and $2,000 for each additional family member - is up from Waterford's costs, but can be reduced as much as $500 if parents provide services to the school.

The school plans to exist largely with the help of parent volunteers, some who may have the skills to work as part-time teachers.

Bernell Stone, Meridian's finance administrator, said tuition is based on what it will take to maintain the site without a subsidy.

"The cost is relative to the benefits," he said. "A quality education more than pays for the type of costs you have."

The school's curriculum is based on a traditional model of liberal education in the arts and sciences and stresses excellence in the critical skills of comprehension, analysis and expression. Computer-assisted instruction will play a major role in the learning process.

Social, moral and spiritual development are also considered an integral part in the Meridian education. There will be released time for LDS seminary, catechism and other religious programs.

But it is parental involvement in decision-making at Meridian that makes the new school different from Waterford, Miller said. "There is much to be retained from the Waterford method, but the spirit and manner of Meridian will separate it" from the previous school.

Meridian will offer classes from grades nursery through 12 and has room for as many as 400 students. All students - regardless of their grade standing - may be admitted into the school.

Meridian's board of trustees plans to gain accreditation as soon as possible.