St Eugene School could close if it doesn’t raise $250,000, show signs of increased enrollment
by BRIAN NADIG
Saint Eugene School, 7930 W. Foster Ave., could close in June if $250,000 is not raised by the end of January.
That was the message given to parents at a Nov. 6 meeting on the state of the school. The school has been operating with a deficit in the last several years, with parish funds being used to provide financial help to the school. The school has an enrollment of 184 students.
Parent AJ Acierno said that the Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to provide $50,000 of the required $250,000 and is also asking that enrollment be at 186 by the end of January, with indications that it will be higher for the next school year.
Many parents are worried that news of the possible closing could hamper efforts to recruit new students, Acierno said. He added that several families at Saint Eugene have begun to look at other school options for next fall.
Acierno said that the announcement surprised parents given the speculation that the school may be merged with another parochial school in the next couple of years as part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s "Renew My Church" consolidation initiative.
Saint Eugene Parish is part of a consolidation grouping with Saint Monica Parish, the Catholic Community of Divine Savior and Our Lady Mother of the Church. The initiative calls for the possible closing and merger of schools with enrollments with fewer than 240 students.
Since the announcement parents have had some productive conversations with the archdiocese, providing hope that the parish school can remain open, Acierno said.
In the Nov. 10 Saint Eugene bulletin, Deacon Chick O’Leary gave the following financial update: "It has been a very difficult year. Church operations ended the fiscal year with a surplus of $204,872, down 7.5 percent from the previous year.
"This amount was not enough to cover the school deficit of $379,307, leaving an operational deficit of over $174,000. This comes on the heels of a $202,000 shortfall from the previous fiscal year, resulting in the use of almost all our parish savings and the exhaustion of the educational endowment fund.
"The school deficit, which was covered by the parish, translates to an investment of over $2,039 per student. While this does represent a worthy cause and demonstrates our commitment to the education of our children, those funds were not available for application to ministries which would serve other segments of our parish community or for the deferred maintenance on parish facilities."
The financial report also states that "with over 50 percent of our registered families failing to contribute the equivalent of one dollar a week, we should all be led to examine the priority we place on practicing our faith which includes support of the church. … One easy way to increase your giving is to enroll in Give Central, our automatic donation platform."
(photo by Rob Mandik)