A community drive to try and save Holy Family School in Le Roy has apparently come up short of its goal.
Today, officials released a letter to parents announcing the school's closure.
In November 2011, a plan to merge Holy Family with St. Joe's was announced, but community outcry led diocese officials to give local families a chance to raise enough money and enroll enough new students to keep the doors open.
The diocese agreed to keep Holy Family operational for the 2011-12 school year, giving parents an opportunity to keep the doors open.
The community had some early success in its efforts, but apparently could not meet the final goals.
Below is the letter sent to parents:
It is out of deep respect for each of you that we regrettably send this letter in order that you hear this announcement from us.
As you already know, we fell short of the benchmarks that were given to us by the Diocese. It is very important for everyone to understand that both benchmarks were joined together. The first benchmark set was the enrollment and that benchmark gave the dollar amount that was needed so that we could go forward without a deficit. With the present number we have registered for next year and the funds collected we would begin the year with a deficit in excess of $38,000.00. This does not take into account that so many families also request financial/tuition aid. Based on the amount of aid given last year and the amount of tuition money uncollected, our deficit would soar to $58,000.00.
Our School Board met last evening with Steve Timmel who is from the Diocese of Buffalo and a member of the Corporate Board of the School. He informed us that the Diocese could not approve a budget that not only had so great a deficit but also noted the fact that the school is also in debt this year to Our Lady of Mercy Parish for over $100,000.00. As a Corporate Board, they have to exercise fiduciary responsibility for the Diocese, the parishes, and the schools and this Board voted that in conscience they could not let us go forward with so great a deficit and so low an enrollment.
We have many more details to share with you and we both will be taking time to meet with all of you to explain how we go forward and transition – especially with the hope that your children continue in Catholic education at St. Joseph’s School in the Fall. We both pledge our cooperation and full help in seeing this happen. But for now, we wanted to immediately send a letter to you so that you heard this news from us and not the news media or another person.
We understand how very difficult this news is for everyone and we are most grateful to each and every one of you who have prayed and worked so hard to help the school, especially to those of you who contributed countless hours of your time and talent to attend meetings, promote the school, and seek donations.
We will be in touch with you during the weeks ahead concerning our transition program and the help that we will extend to all of our families.
Fr. Michael Rock, O. de M.
UPDATE: A press release from the Diocese:
Despite a valiant effort by the local leadership and the surrounding community, Holy Family School in Le Roy will close at the end of the month.
The school was not able to meet benchmarks that were agreed on by the Diocese of Buffalo, the Holy Family Board of Trustees and local leadership last December. Responding to the community, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec agreed to give the community time to rally around the school in an effort to keep it open.
The local leadership established benchmarks. The school needed to register 120 K-8 students and raise $125,000 by the June 1 deadline. To date, 100 students are registered and $110,000 has been raised. The school is currently operating with a significant subsidy from the diocese as well as significant additional support from Our Lady of Mercy Parish.
“The Holy Family community exhibited resounding energy and commitment to keep the school open, viable and sustainable,” said Dr. Rosemary Henry, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese, "but only enrolled 93 students for next year, falling short of the 120 K-8 benchmark. Such low enrollment and serious financial challenges may affect the educational environment for students, compromise the ability to meet payroll for teachers and impact the future viability of the school. We are all grateful for the energy, dedication and effort by the Le Roy community and for the leadership and ministry by Father Michael Rock, canonical administrator, and Kevin Robertson, principal.
“We are saddened to see this school close after many years of a rich tradition of excellence but we know that the legacy of the school will live on through its current students and alumni.”
Current PreK (4)-7 students enrolled at Holy Family School will receive a one-time $500 tuition credit from the diocese that can be applied to any Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of Buffalo for the 2012-13 school year.
In addition, funds have been set aside to operate a bus from LeRoy to St. Joseph School in Batavia, which will welcome Holy Family students.
Founded in 1889, Holy Family School has a current K-8 enrollment of 100 students. This marks a decline of 39 percent, or 63 students, in total enrollment since 2003. The school has 14 full- and part-time employees. The diocesan departments of Catholic Schools and Human Resources will work with faculty members to assist them with possible placement in other Catholic schools.