Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines

Dear Buxton Families,

Greetings from the chilly, soggy north!

As you know, last week brought new challenges to our students, families, and faculty. We had all been holding out hope that we could reconvene on campus sometime this spring, but, sadly, that is not to be. In advisory meetings, classes, tutoring sessions, and many other student-faculty conversations, it was clear that we were all grieving. One thing that I was struck by—and so moved by!—were the number of kids who also expressed concern for how we were doing. They know that Buxton is an ecosystem that involves and affects everyone in it.

That was very much the theme of last night’s senior service from Sophia Bon. She talked about how Buxton had, on some level, prepared us for change, that it had taught us how to be flexible and resilient, that it showed us over and over again that the community can hold and help you during difficult times. It was a beautiful and timely message. Sitting in Timothy’s study, crammed into his desk chair with him, looking out at all the little faces in their Zoom boxes, I could feel that community—and be inspired and bolstered by it. It was a beautiful moment.

Now that we know that we are not going to be returning this spring, I wanted to share with you our policy on tuition for the rest of the year. In consultation with our board of directors, our auditors, and our professional organizations, we have concluded, along with almost every other boarding school, that we will not being giving refunds for the rest of the year. Let me explain why:

Earlier on, I described Buxton as an ecosystem, and that is an apt analogy. When families pay their tuition, they are not paying item by item; rather you are paying for the whole experience. This is why we do not charge by the semester, but by the year. It is also why we ask that tuition be paid at the start of the year. We commit to a year’s worth of salaries, utilities, activities, etc., when we open in September. And those expenses have not been reduced in any significant way even though we are not conducting school on campus. The faculty are still teaching, running activities, meeting with students, doing advising. The staff are still doing their jobs—some of them even coming to campus in order to serve the school most effectively. The I.T. needs of the school have increased significantly. The buildings need to be heated so the pipes don’t freeze. The faculty houses and apartments need to be maintained.

Your tuition dollars also secure the school for the future. We need to maintain the ecosystem so there is a Buxton to come back to when this is all over.

I know that some colleges have given refunds, but colleges are a very different financial beast. As I said earlier, what we are doing is consistent with our peer institutions.

Similarly, some families have asked me what our plans are for the fall. We are, as always, hopeful that we will be able to come back to campus in September. The sand is shifting under our feet so rapidly, it is very hard to predict the future. And, because we are small, we can be nimble and, possibly, put some protocols in place that would be harder to enforce at a bigger school. So much depends on flattening the curve and on availability of testing. We need to wait and see a little longer before we make a decision.

Thanks for your flexibility and understanding during this unprecedented time. We have been so grateful for all of the parental support we have received, and we are so moved by how much our students miss Buxton, value Buxton, and want to be at Buxton as much and as soon as they can.

All the best,


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