DES MOINES, Iowa — From its pocket of woods south of Grand, Bergman Academy is sitting pretty.

“I think the ground is really fertile for people who are looking for something different,” says Christie Stover, the head of school at Bergman.

Bergman has always been just that — central Iowa’s one-and-only non-faith-based independent school. The only option for those wanting a private education without heavy ties to a church.

But there’s always been a catch.

“The most common question I receive from any visiting family is ‘where do students go after 8th grade?’” says Katie Ewing, Bergman’s director of admissions and marketing.

This could be the sea change that leads Bergman to finally add a high school: growing interest in private school options.

“It is something that we are talking about very seriously in our planning,” Stover admits.

The questions are many, but one answer is already clear: a high school would call for a new facility.

“I think we all love and cherish this location in Greenwood Park,” Stover says, “but this location would not support more, bigger bodies.”

A new building would call for a huge sum of money upfront, but Bergman believes families would fill it — especially with new Education Savings Accounts helping with tuition.

“People have been asking questions like ‘does that apply to Bergman? Would I be able to use that funding for Bergman?’” Ewing says, “And being an accredited school they can. Those are questions we’ve started to field more often.”

While the ESA will likely hurt Iowa’s public schools, its private schools would all seem to be prime to benefit immediately.

“The fact that it can expand access to Bergman,” Stover says, “it can expand access to a Bergman-quality education, it can provide more students with the opportunity, and therefore, yes–we could grow and it would be very helpful.”