A financial boost of a quarter million dollars raised since mid-May will help St. Rose and St. Mary School stay open into the foreseeable future.
The joint parish council overseeing the school met last Tuesday to review fundraising efforts by groups who had a goal of $350,000.
“We didn’t hit our $350,000 goal but there is a good plan to raise the final $100,000,” said Parish Director Lincoln Wood.
The joint parish council felt that the $250k collected and pledged so far, along with the plan to raise the rest could secure the school for 3-5 years, would give the parish time to recover from its recent struggles.
“What kind of generated the crisis was the parish’s revenue both St. Rose here in Clintonville and St. Mary’s in Bear Creek,” said Wood. “The economy hit them pretty hard and revenue collections from envelopes really plummeted so they couldn’t support the school the way they used to.”
He admitted that when the joint parish council sent the letter announcing the budget shortfall he cried. “I thought, there’s no way this is going to happen in that amount of time.”
“Lots and lots of people prayed,” explained Wood. Support began coming in from both inside and outside of the parishes. “People said you’re a good school, we value having you in the community and we hope you don’t have to close your doors,” explained Wood.
He is also grateful for the patience of the staff. “I’m really impressed with the way the teachers and staff held together too,” he reports. “They were in limbo since April when the contracts usually come out, until the end of the June not knowing,” said Wood. “They were really courageous and supportive and they worked hard as well.”
After the joint council made their decision to keep the school open last week the next priority was to call the teachers.
Wood was busy fielding phone calls and informing staff of the good news last Wednesday.
“There was a real sense of excitement and also a relief that we’re moving forward,” explained Wood. “We did some restructuring in terms of planning as to what the school is going to look like as we go forward. There have been some changes and I think all the teachers were on board and excited about those changes as well,” said Woods.
“Our parents have done a good a good job holding the tension as well. They all kind of formed a plan B, but really were hoping they could go with the plan A, which was to stay with us and now they’re able to do that.”
The school has operated for 126 years.
“It went through the Great Depression, it’s weathered a lot,” he said. “This really makes me appreciate all those who have gone before us. The struggles they faced, the sacrifices they made to give us the school that we have today,” said Wood.
“We’re going to just continue to fight that fight. It’s not going to be easy, but it is worth it.”