Baton Rouge International School plans to close after 22 years | Education

A small private school in Baton Rouge with an international bent has announced it is closing its doors after 22 years in operation, citing a big drop in enrollment during the pandemic from which the school has yet to recover.

“It is therefore with deep and heartfelt sadness that I write to tell you that Baton Rouge International School will permanently close at the end of this school year,” read a letter sent to parents of the school’s students Monday.

The private school, which is located at 5015 Auto Plex Drive, will hold its last day of classes May 26.

Enrollment at Baton Rouge International School has declined from 309 students in fall 2019 to just 188 students this February, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. The school, which starts in prekindergarten and goes to 12th grade, saw a particularly sharp drop in its high school grades, declining from 75 to just nine students over that time period.

The school is part of a global network of 50 schools known as the International Schools Partnership. The letter to parents was signed by Sarah Graves, an ISP regional managing director for its schools in the United States and Canada. The network’s headquarters is in London.

In the letter, Graves said the school held out hope of reversing its loss of students if enough families renewed for the coming school year, but those hopes have been dashed.

“Now well into April and more than 60% behind where we were at this time last year, we have come to the painful determination that the school is no longer educationally sustainable,” according to the letter.

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Families who have already signed up for 2022-23 school year will have their money refunded. Tuition ranges from $10,880 to $11,660 depending on the grade.

Baton Rouge International School stands out in the local education landscape. It offers a full multilingual immersion program in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Chinese. And high school students have a chance to take advanced courses via both the International Baccalaureate Program and Advanced Placement.

Graves said that the school cut back this year on some of its offerings but those cuts “had detrimental impacts on learning and social experiences.”

“As stewards of the school, we feel a deep responsibility to our students — and you, their families — to recognize when we cannot deliver what they need and deserve. Regrettably, that time is now,” Graves wrote.

In addition to enrollment declines, the school has seen leadership changes in recent years. The current head of school is Tanya Price took over last year after the departure of the previous head of school, Vicki Jarrell, who was there one year.

The school says it’s trying to find new schools for its students and is working to find spots in other ISP schools for staff. ISP also plans to offer a scholarship to its remaining 10th and 11th graders to help them with tuition at their next school “in an amount equivalent to what their tuition would have been at (Baton Rouge International School).”

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