Shattuck St. Mary’s (SSM), a private academy in Faribault, Minnesota, has closed down its expansion school in Bayi School, Beijing. SSM president Nick Stoneman attributes the shutdown to a Chinese takeover, claiming that the internal power struggle was compromising their academic endeavors.
“We’re very protective of our students, our requirements, our program. We felt those expectations we’re becoming untenable with the encroachment from our partner.”
Shattuck St. Mary’s had begun their cooperation with Bayi High School in 2013, allowing its students to experience the US curriculum and graduate with double diplomas. Over the course of their three year collaboration, SSM’s expansion school had hired 14 teachers and five administrators.
The collaboration between SSM and Bayi High School was set up so that Bayi would receive the students’ tuition in exchange for facilities and employee costs. However, SSM complained that Bayi had begun exerting their own academic standards on students, which conflicted with SSM beliefs.
“They wanted to take over control. They were very concerned about their bottom line. They would love to see all the American administrators not there and have their team in place, because they said the price point was significantly less.”
SSM expansion school’s first class graduated this Spring, its sixty students being the last two receive the SSM diploma. Bayi high school inherits the 2017 and 2018 graduating classes, although with different faculty as existing teachers have all returned to SSM or moved on to new positions.
“It was a hard decision to make. You have to preserve your brand and your program. We were very excited about it, but we read the tea leaves and saw our partner wanted to be in charge, and we couldn’t let that happen.”
As the first foreign expansion by SSM, they are disappointed with the results. However, SSM has not given up on providing Asian students a western-style high school education. In fact, they have already begun working on a new K-12 expansion campus in Xi’an. The project is financed by an investor group and university with a fund of USD 35 million for an expected population of 1,500 students. SSM has also been busy with a second K-12 project in Malaysia, opening fall 2018.
But wait, SSM will not stop short of global expansion. Over the next decade, they plan to open six to eight campuses for a total of 10,000 students. If they succeed, Shattuck St. Mary’s will be the largest independent school in the US (with the most students).
Photo: SSM website