St. Michael School in Newark recently launched a two-pronged effort intended to enhance its stability and ensure it remains a viable option for Finger Lakes-area families seeking Catholic education for their children. The effort includes an enrollment drive as well as an aggressive fundraising drive, said Pauline DeCann, principal.
"We’re just working to make sure that St. Michael School will be here for the future, and we’re reaching out to the community members, we’re reaching out to alumni, anyone who supports the school," she said. "We are working very hard to increase our enrollment and increase our funding. We started the drive a few months ago, and now we’re really starting to push it."
The fundraising drive in particular had brought in $30,438 in pledges and donations by the end of February, but school officials said they hope that total will grow to $150,000 by April 1 so they can accurately plan for the upcoming year, DeCann said. The school currently enrolls 106 students, and DeCann said she hopes to enroll at least 131 for the 2011-12 school year.
"We’re working to get our numbers up so there’s a better balance between the money coming in and the money we have to spend. Without an increase in our enrollment and an increase in our financial income, we may not remain an option," DeCann said.
St. Michael School has thrived for 57 years, thanks to faithful support from local businesses and parishioners in the Newark area, as well as the school’s staff and families. This year, however, the poor economy is taking a toll on everyone, from the school to the individuals who support it, DeCann said.
Without outside financial assistance, St. Michael Parish in Newark and the other Catholic parishes in the area cannot afford to keep up with the rising costs of instructional materials, new technology and building maintenance, she added.
"This year we are looking to the wider community for partnerships through enrollment and financial commitment. We look to our community with the awareness that our neighbors recognize the unique gift that Catholic education is to our region. This becomes more obvious as we serve an increasing number of non-Catholics," DeCann said.
St. Michael is a vital asset to the community, she added. The school not only boasts a strong academic program, but it also provides a prayerful, safe and secure environment in which here students are respected and learn to respect others, she added.
"Our students graduate with a formation in self-discipline, character and moral values based on the faith-filled foundation at St. Michael School," DeCann said.
The school sent letters about the fundraising drive to potential donors several weeks ago, and DeCann said she’s pleased with the response the school has received thus far. This month, volunteers will begin calling potential donors they’ve not yet heard from, including alumni and other friends of the school. Donors also may contribute directly through the school’s website, http://schools.dor.org/stmichaelnew, where they will find a link to PayPal as well as a list of donors and six contribution levels.
Donations and pledges of all sizes will be gratefully accepted, but those who can’t afford to make financial contributions may still help the school’s cause, DeCann said.
"Talk with your family and friends who have school-age children about the benefits of a St. Michael School education and encourage them to visit the school," she said. "If you are a St. Michael alumnus, talk with your classmates, join (the school’s page) on Facebook and begin a financial challenge amongst your former classmates to ensure the continued success of St. Michael School."
DeCann said she believes the school community can achieve its aggressive goals by April 1.
"We just have to reach the right people. We’re very positive and hopeful and moving forward," she said. "We need your help in making the future of St. Michael School remain sound and bright. The viability of St. Michael School is in our hands — we are the ones who will keep the school alive and strong so our children can grow and flourish in wisdom, friendship and faith."