A local private school is playing musical chairs as its current home is set to be taken over by another institution.
Richmond Preparatory School, which has been operating in the former Benedictine College Preparatory School at 304 N. Sheppard St. since 2012, is vacating the building to make way for Cristo Rey Richmond, the new local offshoot of a national network of Catholic private schools.
Richmond Prep lead administrator Jonathan Bibbs said the school isn’t being evicted in favor of Cristo Rey. Rather, it was given plenty of lead time and had already been considering more space because of enrollment growth, he said.
“I don’t want to paint the picture in any way that we’re being forced out,” Bibbs said. “We were going to need to move to continue to grow.”
Bibbs’ mother, Yvonne Jones Bibbs, founded Richmond Prep in 1983 as Sixth Baptist Christian School. Over the years, the school has relocated a few times to spots on West Grace and West Main before landing on Sheppard Street in 2012 as Benedictine was relocating to Goochland.
Richmond Prep had 60 students in 2012 and has since grown its enrollment to over 150 with a waitlist for its pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes.
“With Cristo Rey coming in and with our growth, it wasn’t conducive to stay here,” Bibbs said.
Richmond Prep and its staff of 30 will need a new home by the 2019 school year, when Cristo Rey Richmond will open.
Bibbs said Richmond Prep and Cristo Rey will work with each other, since the schools teach kids in pre-K through eighth grade and in high school, respectively.
Both schools are set up to be affordable for families who wouldn’t typically be able to afford private school. Cristo Rey mixes employment and education for its students, while Richmond Prep includes before- and after-school care in its tuition, which ranges from $5,100 to $6,700 per year.
“Some of our middle school students will go on to attend Cristo Rey,” Bibbs said.
Lynnhaven Academy, another small local private school, also had previously been based out of the former Benedictine building. It moved last year to a permanent home in Forest Hill.
Richmond Prep has retained Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Nathan Hughes in its search for real estate. Bibbs said they’re currently deciding how much space they’d like in a new home.
“Since we started in 1983 we’ve always been between Byrd Park, Broad Street, downtown and the Fan,” Bibbs said. “That’s been our home for a while, and we’d like to stay in that area.”