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Ennis Daily News

Concern over future of St. John Catholic School

Meeting tonight to address enrollment figures, possibility of closure
St. John Catholic School is facing another dilemma in a year that started out with a money crisis that had apparently turned around, thanks to private donations and a series of fundraisers.
But in a presentation given by Father Edison Vela during regular services last weekend, parishioners were informed that registration for the upcoming school year is down to such a marked degree that the future of the school is in jeopardy.
At 9 p.m. this evening members of the church, school faculty and parents will meet in the elementary cafeteria to address the issue.
“I believe the meaning of the presentation was to charge the parishioners with the task of making sure the school remains open by soliciting new members,” Annette Taylor, spokesperson for the Dallas Catholic Diocese, said yesterday.
“Currently we have 204 students enrolled but for the upcoming 2008-2009 school year we only have 98 total from grades K3 -12, so a decision has to be made. The parish will evaluate the situation and present a recommendation to the diocese on May 28. It is up to the parish to keep the school open if the enrollment numbers do not come up, but it really wouldn’t be feasible with so few students.”
The situation leaves many parents confused after working diligently to help collect needed funds through various benefits to alleviate the facility’s debt.
“I just don’t understand how closing the school can even be a possibility,” said St. John parent Les Bell. “We were told all along that the school would remain open, and that plans were already in the works for new activities for the upcoming school year. So now to have there be any question as to if it will open is very concerning. My daughter will be a senior next year and to have to finish your senior year at a new school isn’t fair. Closing the school would not only be unfair for my child but for all the kids who attend the school.”
St. John Advisory Council President Laddy Rejcek shares Bell’s depth of confusion; he and his family left the presentation Sunday in frustration. He said he hopes tonight’s public meeting will lift his worries.
“I think the information given in the presentation was misleading and it sent out the wrong message to the parish,” he said.
“I believe Father Vela gave that presentation in hopes of getting people who have been slow in registering or maybe on the fence to go ahead and register their children. I think it was an effort to go into the 2008 school year with an accurate budget because at this point, the school has no debt and he wanted to be sure of where we stand.”
Rejcek encourages parents to come to the meeting with an open mind to clear up any misconceptions as to the future of the school.
“The truth is that I can’t say the school will remain open right now because it is not up to me,” he said.
“My hopes are that the community rallies like it has in the past, that students enroll for classes and we have a great school year. The school means a lot to the community and with that kind of support, the future can only be bright.”
The meeting has been rescheduled from its original time due to the facility being used for a kindergarten graduation.
Father Vela was unavailable for comment yesterday.
An open meeting for members of the public to attend and voice their concerns will begin at 9 p.m. tonight in the parish cafeteria.
Candie Beck-Adams is community editor for the Ennis Daily News. She can be reached at candie@ennisdailynews.com.

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Posted by on May 22 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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