On Tuesday, April 24, Indian Creek School announced the next steps in fulfilling the School's Strategic Plan: the intent to sell the Evergreen Campus, which currently houses the Pre-K3 through sixth grade program, to Rockbridge Academy. The Indian Creek community was informed of this news through a letter from Head of School Rick Branson and Chair of the Board of Trustees Matt Alsted. The complete letter can be read below:
Dear Indian Creek Community,
In 2016 Indian Creek adopted a bold Strategic Plan that included the goal of becoming one Pre-K to 12 school on one campus and thus one school, one community, one campus. Since that time, the Board of Trustees and School Leadership have worked tenaciously to achieve that goal, and we are writing to let you know that the next chapter is poised to be written into our history.
Becoming one Pre-K to 12 school on one campus has its roots in the Evenings of Engagement that informed the writing of the Strategic Plan. From those conversations, we developed a plan and immediately began executing it in deliberate stages by creating capacity on the 114-acre campus on Crownsville Road. First came the investment of a $4 million dollar athletic facility. Then came the move of the seventh and eighth grades to that campus, as well as renovations to the programmatic spaces at the Upper School. While we believed that this would improve the historical eighth-to-ninth grade retention rate of 50%, we are proud to see that retention rate grow in one year to over 70%.
Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees and School Leadership sought a pathway to move the Lower School program to the Crownsville Campus beginning with the sale of the Evergreen Campus. We established that such a plan would require the sale of the Evergreen Campus, minimal disruption to the student experience during construction, an ambitious philanthropy campaign, and the construction of a new Lower School building. We have now entered into a Letter of Intent with Rockbridge Academy to purchase the Evergreen Campus and look to enter a formal purchase agreement this Spring.
Rockbridge Academy has been a good partner in this negotiation. With our intent of creating the least amount of disruption to teaching and learning, when Rockbridge Academy purchases the Evergreen property, Indian Creek will lease back space for our Pre-K to 6 students so they may stay in their school until we are ready to unify on one campus. This will mean in the interim, beginning in the Fall of 2019, Indian Creek and Rockbridge Academy will share the Evergreen Campus with clear delineation of space and program. There will be no merger of program, faculty, or student body. The Board of Trustees and School Leadership is committed to our independence even as we share space, committed to the rapid execution of the process, committed to the relocating the Pre-K to 6 Program, and committed to being one school on one campus.
With the sale of the property, Indian Creek has a base of funding to begin the construction of the new Pre-K to 6 building. We will do all we can to make the building process efficient and timely. With that, we will also embark on a philanthropic campaign to raise money for the campus unification and constructing a great space for our students and teachers. We need your support and we know we can count on you. This has been our collective vision, and we will make it happen together.
While our focus has been on this partnership with Rockbridge Academy, much work has already been done in terms of planning the actual building, site plan, and relocation. Obviously, many details have been studied and considered, and yet we are early in the process. Let us reassure you that we will do everything possible to ensure minimal disruption, act expeditiously, focus on our teaching and learning, and execute the plan to be one Pre-K to 12 school on one campus. While it might seem superfluous to say here, the Crownsville Campus, with its 114 acres is a rare asset in independent schools today. Having our entire program together allows Indian Creek to be more efficient in facilities and operations, and also invest in one campus for all students.
Further, many of our key decisions have been in preparation for this unification. As mentioned, the building of the athletic facility and the move of seventh and eighth grades advanced this plan. Moreover, in this region, developing a long term sustainable model for a Pre-K to 12 school has also driven decisions such as our new Flexible Tuition for long term affordability for families as well as finding the right size and scale of the school. It has been ambitious and fruitful work. We also ask for your understanding that in being transparent in our communication, that also means we will not know every detail this early in the process. We ask your patience as we work toward the first step and that is the purchase agreement.
For now, we will continue to engage with Rockbridge Academy to come to terms for a purchase. We will plan to keep our students on the Evergreen Campus for least disruption until the construction is completed, and at the same time intentionally and clearly separate space for Rockbridge and Indian Creek to share the building in the interim to begin in the fall of 2019. With that, we will embark to raise the funds to build the new Lower School Building and continue to be bold and courageous as we plan for our future. One School. One Community. One Campus.
Rick Branson, Head of School
Matt Alsted, Chair Board of Trustees
Since the announcement of the intention to sell the Evergreen Campus, the Board of Trustees has compiled a list of questions that have been asked by parents and provided answers, which can be found at this link
. The goal is to answer the questions of the School community in a way that gives information about this exciting next step in the strategic plan to become ‘one campus, one community, one school.’ One of our School's founders, Anne Chambers, was very excited when she was informed about this next step in the evolution of Indian Creek, sharing that she is "happiest when she is building." Indian Creek School is excited about this next step towards our goal of unifying the two school campuses to provide the best program, the best experience for students in academics, arts, and athletics, and to offer the best experience for families. We will continue update the school community as this process continues.