Dear AIS-R Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff,
On the eve of our school’s 50th anniversary and on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, it is with great enthusiasm that I officially announce that the American International School—Riyadh has recently signed an agreement to construct a new, purpose-built, state-of-the-art campus, for our students and community. As you are aware, the AIS-R Board’s Development Committee has long engaged in a process of research, planning, and negotiations on the school’s behalf in order to secure a “campus of the future” for our students. I am, therefore, honored to share this significant news and offer some highlights of the Board’s process, plan, and direction as we begin to embrace the next 50 years of excellence in education for the AIS-R community.
The AIS-R Board began this visionary project in 2000 when it unanimously agreed to investigate and plan for an additional location situated within close proximity to the city center and the area of residential growth in the northern sector of Riyadh. Since this agreement and through a consultative process that has included meetings with parents, business groups, governmental officials, professional consultants, and US Embassy representatives, the Development Committee has had discussions with a number of prominent developers and in 2009, signed a MOU with the Olayan Group. The Olayan Group was shortlisted and eventually selected not only for its strong historical connection with the school, but also because of its unparalleled commitment to education, and its reputation in the business and finance sector within Saudi Arabia and abroad. In addition, Olayan offered AIS-R full control of the design process, incomparable financing arrangements, a highly competitive leasing contract, alongside a long-term commitment for the continued success of the school.
The Board has approved a lease agreement for an 80,000+ square meter lot—a size similar to our current school complex—situated in north-west Riyadh, on the interchange of King AbdulAziz Road and the new Prince Salman Road (approximately 5 kilometers north of Kingdom Hospital). Our new “north campus” will be connected by a walkway to the Al-Bustan housing compound, but will maintain a separate entrance and independence from the compound management. The Board is confident that this location will serve the AIS-R community well as it is in the center of a growing residential area, which will offer ease of travel, reduced traffic, enhanced security features, proximity to the downtown core area, walk-to-school options, among many other benefits. More importantly, a purpose-built school will allow students to continue their education in a state-of-the art, technologically advanced and environmentally efficient complex. While we plan to move our current “operations” to the new campus in August 2014, the Board’s long-term strategic plan will be the development of two campuses—thus offering premier American education in both the north and south areas of Riyadh.
Through this partnership with Olayan, AIS-R will continue to function as an independent, non-profit organization, under the exact same organizational structure, policies, governmental license, and educational program as currently exists. Moreover, AIS-R will also continue to operate using the same financial model. With this in mind, the Board has devised a long-term plan that takes advantage of several financial strategies simultaneously in order to ensure that tuition costs remain within the norms of private American schools in the Middle Eastern region. As is common practice amongst international schools, AIS-R has been building up a strategic reserve fund for several years in anticipation of a new campus. A portion of this fund will be utilized for upfront payments so that lease disbursements will not begin for another four years. In addition, the recently announced “capital fee” structure for all new students will generate additional funds to partially offset the new campus costs. AIS-R will also begin to seriously explore options for fundraising and a number of other “capital campaign” strategies. The Board has worked closely with several independent consultants, including Jones Lang LaSalle, Ernst and Young, and John Littleford Consulting, to ensure that the strategic and financial models are secure and viable. Additionally, the Alsulaim Alawaji & Partners/Jones Day have worked with the Board to protect the school’s legal interests. The AIS-R Board of Trustees is confident that this is a prudent decision for the long-term security and viability of the school.
With the completion of this new world-class campus, AIS-R will join the ranks of other top American international schools, such as Doha American, Cairo American and the American School of Dubai, as they too have recently built new state-of-the-art facilities. In fact, we have engaged the same architect from FX Fowle, a NY based architectural firm. If you would like to learn more about the new campus project and housing options, please browse the other pages in this section of the website and plan to attend one of the information sessions offered in the fall of 2012, which will be announced in the Newsflash.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank the many parents and community members who have volunteered their time and expertise to assist us in developing this new school plan. This move will be one of the most defining characteristics of AIS-R’s history as our school enters its next 50 years of excellence in education!
Mr. John Langford
AIS-R Board of Trustees