Today, Saint Augustine School and supporters of 25 other Catholic elementary schools will submit their plans to keep the schools open to the Archdiocese of New York. Saint Augustine School will follow up with an evening rally to showcase community support for the school.
On Monday, Nov.26 the Archdiocese released the names of 26 schools including Saint Augustine and St. Peter Parish School in Haverstraw stating, they were at risk of being closed. The schools were given until Thursday, Jan. 3 to come up with alternatives and avenues to avoid being shut down at the end of the current school year.
Bethann Rooney has been organizing Saint Augustine’s response. She said the school had been challenged to raise $1.2 million through donations and pledges, increased revenue and/or reduced expenses. As of Tuesday night, less than five weeks after the announcement volunteers had secured $710,000 through its Friends of Saint Augustine School Foundation.
“We have developed a plan that balances our budget while using a minimal amount of the funding in our Foundation in years one and two to covering operating expenses,” explained Rooney. “In year three and beyond, the Friends of Saint Augustine School Foundation will not be needed for operating expenses but instead will be for tuition assistance, scholarship, curriculum enhancements, technology etc.”
Rooney expressed optimism over the outcome.
“We have an exceptionally strong proposal and I am confident that we will be successful,” she said. “We demonstrate that Saint Augustine School is the strong educational beacon that the Archdiocese should be navigating toward, not away from.”
While the proposal is sent in today, a formal presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9 to the Archdiocese’s Local Regional Board. St. Augustine School’s presentation will be made by Rooney, who is the chair of the Step Up For SAS Campaign, Father William Cosgrove, who is the pastor of Saint Augustine, School Principal Katharine Murphy and parent Declan Lynch.
A cross-section of the community served by the New City school is expected at the 7 p.m. rally. Saint Augustine School students, their families and school staff have invited representatives of local Catholic high schools, business leaders and government officials to join them. The one hour rally will include an opening ceremony, a performance by the students, remarks by school and local leaders, a video presentation before ending with a dance party.