The Local Regional Board of the Archdiocese meets today to review the plan Saint Augustine School’s representatives presented last Wednesday. The team, composed of Bethann Rooney, who chaired the “Step Up For SAS” campaign, Father William Cosgrove, who is the pastor of Saint Augustine, School Principal Katharine Murphy and parent Declan Lynch, offered the alternative proposal they crafted to keep the 53-year-old New City Catholic elementary school open.
Rooney characterized their proposal as strong and defensible.
“We were pleased with the extent of the dialogue and the number of tough and probing questions that we were asked,” she said. I’m sure you can imagine that the Board was most focused on our financial plan, the budget assumptions that were made and the veracity of the pledges and donations in our Foundation.”
Rooney said they believe their plan to keep Saint Augustine open beyond June shows the school as an example of what the Archdiocese wants all its schools to be like. Onadministrators, parents, students and alumni found out it was included on a list of 26 elementary schools deemed by the Archdiocese of New York to be “at risk” of closure at the end of the current school year.
The school was directed to come up with a plan by January 3 showing it could operate financially independent of the Archdiocese and Saint Augustine Parish. A rally at the school attended by hundreds followed submission of the proposal.
The “Step Up For SAS” campaign staffed by many volunteers raised $800,000 in donations and pledges. Additionally, Rooney said they identified revenue enhancements and budget reductions for a total of $2,100,000. That amount, she note, was $855,000 more than the $1,245,000 goal set by the Archdiocese.
Still Rooney noted there is uncertainty about the outcome.
“The question however remains about whether or not our plan helps or hinders the Archdiocese reach their goal, primarily a financial one, for Rockland County Catholic Schools,” she said.
According to Rooney, the Local Regional Board meets today to make its final recommendation about Saint Augustine School, which will not be disclosed publicly until Tuesday, Jan. 22.