UPDATE: May 15, 2019

The Prudence Island School Foundation (PISF) would like to thank all the people of our community, some 30 strong, who attended the Portsmouth Town Council meeting on Monday, May 13. Members of the Prudence Island Community were joined by our State Senator James Seveney and State Representative Susan Donovan who have been working behind the scenes on behalf of the Island children and our historic one-room schoolhouse.

We also extend our appreciation to all those who wrote letters of support, sent emails and made phone calls. The support we received was pivotal. Through a verbal agreement and without a formal vote, the Town Council agreed to help with writing a new Memorandum of Understanding. They also agreed to ensure Civic Support is provided to the PISF for the 2019-2020 school year. While this is a very positive step forward, we still do not have a long-term solution for keeping elementary-aged children on the island. Your continued support will be greatly appreciated as it has been very effective. When the time comes, we will provide another template for writing appropriate letters of support.
As to the actual building, the Portsmouth School Committee voted (6-0) at their meeting on May 14 to turn it over to the Audubon Society of RI who will turn it over to the Foundation for management tentatively effective July 1, 2019.
Again, we thank you for your continuing support.
save school 2

UPDATE: May 11, 2019

Click here to read the press release issued by the Prudence Island School Foundation.


UPDATE: May 8, 2019

The Prudence Island School Foundation Board of Directors would like to share the updates below with our friends and supporters.

  • Since 2009 the Prudence Island School Foundation (PISF) has partially been funded under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between PISF, Portsmouth Town Council, and Portsmouth School Department.
  • The Portsmouth School Department has stated they are terminating the MOU and thereby the support PISF receives for the cost of educating the Island’s children in grades K-4. It is within their right to do this per the MOU.
  • PISF will continue to work on behalf of all island families who wish to have their children educated on PI.

PISF will go before the Town Council on Monday, May 13th at 7pm to request their help in continuing to provide schooling for children on Prudence Island. Your presence at the meeting and any other support you are willing to provide (emails, letters, phone calls) are greatly appreciated. The meeting will be held at Portsmouth Town Hall, 2200 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871.

Questions should be directed to Allan Bearse, Board Chair: allnn11@aol.com


UPDATE: May 8, 2019

Letter of Support template and contacts.





Situated in Narragansett Bay, Prudence Island is a village of the nearby town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Prudence Island has a year-round population of 150; the summer population is estimated at 1,500. The island is isolated: The only access to Prudence Island is by ferry service from Bristol, 3.5 miles away, or by private boat.  The ferry runs, on average, four trips a day, leaving Bristol, Rhode Island at 6:00 and 8:00 in the morning and 3:30 and 5:30 in the evening. Travel time is approximately thirty minutes each way.

Until 2009, the town supported a school on the island, located in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1896 and used almost continuously as a school since. At the Prudence Island School, the town provided on-island education for children in the elementary grades, while students in upper grades traveled by ferry to attend middle and high school in Portsmouth. As costs rose and financial support for schools eroded, island volunteers re-roofed and painted the building, performed custodial duties and donated supplies. In addition, retired island educators taught gym, art, and music, all in an attempt to make it possible for the school to remain open as a public education facility. In 1995 an informal community fund-raising organization, The Friends of Prudence Island Students (FOPIS), was formed to support extracurricular activities at the school.

CreatingThe Prudence Island School Foundation (PISF) was formed in 2009 to engage in activities and raise funds to support the perpetual existence of the last active one-room school house in the state of Rhode Island, thereby ensuring that the young children of Prudence Island could be educated within their community.

On July 29, 2009, the PISF entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Portsmouth School Committee and the town of Portsmouth. As a result of the MOU, the PISF took on the role of providing support for Prudence Island families who opt to educate their children on the island, rather than send them across the bay for elementary school. In exchange, the Portsmouth Town Council agreed to contribute a per-student dollar amount to the PISF for each of those elementary aged children who are educated on Prudence Island.

Under the MOU, the Prudence Island School Foundation became responsible for the complete education framework, including developing and implementing educational plans, researching and purchasing curricula, assessing progress and reporting to state and local authorities.

At the time, it was immediately apparent to the Foundation that there was a need to provide services for pre-school and middle and high school students as well, so it determined to fill that need and secure the funding to do so through individual solicitations to friends and supporters and fundraising events. The Foundation also runs a Summer Program that provides educational and community-building activities open to all children on the Island during the summer months.


The Prudence Island School

The Prudence Island School Foundation officially opened its educational support program on September 9, 2009 with a paid Rhode Island certified elementary educator as the PISF’s Education Coordinator, as well as a Curriculum Committee made up of educator-volunteers certified in elementary and secondary education. It has since provided for a paid Program Coordinator position to teach middle- and secondary-level students, and a paid Administrative Assistant. The program is based in the historic Prudence Island Schoolhouse.

During the summer, when the population of young people grows, the Foundation’s Summer Program provides individualized tutoring in reading and math. It also offers the opportunity to write and produce the monthly school newspaper; participate in the annual Filmmaking Project; attend week-long Art, Dance and STEM and Chorus Camps; and take part in other activities. These activities help young people on Prudence Island to continue to learn, cultivate skills and talents, and have fun, too, over the summer.