RIC says Henry Barnard School will close at the end of 2020-21 school year

Henry Barnard School

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – Rhode Island College (RIC) announced on Thursday that the Henry Barnard School will close at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year.

This is apart of the “Cost-cutting measures” RIC is implementing due to a projected $10.4 million deficit the college will face for fiscal year 2021 from the pandemic.

RIC says in order to close the gap, the college must reduce its overall operating expenses by 15%.

The measures include executive pay cuts, continued hiring freezes, staff reductions, the delay of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), the closure of the Henry Barnard School (HBS).

“The pandemic and its unprecedented impacts have triggered one of the biggest fiscal challenges in Rhode Island College’s 166-year history,” said RIC’s President Frank D. Sánchez. “These are the hardest choices I’ve had to make during my time as president.”

The Henry Barnard School is an elementary school that is run by RIC and located on its campus.

RIC says the educational model on which the school was founded upon in the 1800s as a laboratory school for the RIC’s teacher candidates is no longer considered the best practice in teacher education.

Henry Barnard School’s enrollment has also fallen by more than 40% since 2017, according to RIC.

I am extremely disappointed in the decision of RIC President Frank Sanchez to close Henry Barnard School,” President of the Rhode Island Senate Dominick Ruggerio said in a statement.  “This will certainly have a negative impact on students and their parents as they head into what’s sure to be an already difficult school year.  I will be reaching out to Governor Gina Raimondo and Speaker Nicholas Mattiello to see what we can do to keep this 120 year old laboratory school operating into the future.” 

RIC says facing the prospect of over a million dollars in deficits at the Henry Barnard School, the college concluded that losses from keeping the school open cannot be sustained.

“Unfortunately, there are 150 RI elementary school children at the bottom of the RI College to-do list,” said Scott Bromberg, HBS’s Parents’ Association President and former Vice President of Benny’s Inc. “Rhode Island College has essentially told my 7 and 9 year-old children and their 200 classmates, the 35 dedicated teachers, a 122-year old education institution and the countless alumni (and I say that quite literally as RIC has never kept a log of HBS alumni) that Henry Barnard, and we, have outlived our usefulness to the college.”

A group of parents of Henry Barnard School students say they received no communication about the potential closing from RIC or the HBS leadership until rumors this summer caused parents to investigate further.

They  wrote to the RIC administration requesting answers. They received no response.  Parents felt compelled to reach out to the media decrying the lack of communication and soon after stories appeared, the parents received a notification for a Zoom meeting with RIC President Frank Sanchez.

According to parents, President Sanchez cited budget issues in the Zoom meeting and the need to educate RIC teaching students in a place with more diversity, as the reasons for the potential closure.

“Sanchez unfortunately had little to say about the future, leaving parents to make choices for their children’s school year blindly,” the parent group said in a statment

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island