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Decision expected on fate of St. John School

Bishop Farrell may decide on school as early as this weekend
A decision may soon be reached regarding the fate of St. John Catholic School. At a regular Advisory Committee meeting last night, Father Edison Vela announced Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Dallas Diocese may provide his decision as soon as the weekend.
“I do not know for sure when he will make his decision because he is in Italy right now, but it may come this weekend,” Vela said.
If the decision, originally slated for July 1, comes early, the community will have time to deal with consequences, either way it goes, committee members speculated.
Vela submitted his recommendations for maintaining the school to Farrell on June 20, later relating to Advisory Committee President Laddy Rejcek that of four options proposed, the bishop refused to consider one.
“I gave a recommendation of consolidating classes at the school, putting grades together and cutting staff but Bishop Farrell would not consider that option,” he said.
Vela’s other three suggestions were to:
• close the school
• keep the school open for the upcoming school year with current enrollment figures, a full staff and a $300,000 deficit
• or to run the school with current enrollment figures, a drastically cut staff and a $158,000 deficit.
With the final decision out of the hands of the advisory committee, Secretary Melanie Kriska asked Vela what his plan was to communicate the bishop’s decision to the parents of students most affected by it.
“If the decision comes this weekend, I will share it in Sunday’s mass,” Vela said.
The committee also examined options for informing the community should the school close. A letter from the business office was suggested by Vice President Adam Gamble, and all agreed that refunds would be forthcoming to those who have already registered for next year.
One issue advisory committee members felt was crucial to easing parents’ minds about the future of the school was hiring a new principal.
Although the committee was informed by Dr. Charles LeBlanc, director of schools for the diocese, that a contract would be offered the successful candidate, this has not transpired.
“I think it really hurts our chances of getting further enrollment when we are dragging our feet on a new principal,” Gamble said.
He then addressed a question to Vela.
“So the night the whole advisory committee sat here, and Dr. LeBlanc said we would go ahead and offer a contract to the prospective principal immediately, there was no intention of doing so until the July 1 deadline?”
Vela answered, “Yes, that is true.”
Gamble expressed regret that interviews were undertaken to choose a candidate when there was no intention of hiring one right away.
“So basically this has been a huge waste of time for advisory committee members,” he said. “This simple thing would have gone so far in easing the minds of parents, showing we were still on track for the upcoming school year. We could have sent out press releases and gone ahead with marketing the school, but instead we waited and it has cost us.”
Gamble admitted St. John has lost several students and teachers this week as a result of the indecision.
Rejcek interjected there was no point in pursuing further discussion until a decision by Bishop Farrell had been made regarding the school’s future.
He then thanked fellow committee members for their support over the last year.
“I just want to thank all of you for your hard work,” Rejcek said. “We have come a long way in a year and if the school closes it will be with very little debt because of successful fundraising. If we had another few years I believe we could turn things around, and I really hope that this is not our last official meeting tonight.”
The closing of St. John School would mean the end of a private education system in Ennis.
Vela asked committee members to keep the school in their prayers, adding he hoped the community would support the bishop’s decision.

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Posted by on Jun 27 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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