CNBNews Note: Angela Budesa, who has been working on the Save St. Mary Grammar School committee, contacted Congressman Rob Andrews asking him for his help. The Congressman wrote to the Camden Diocese. Below is the response to the Congressman from Nicholas Regina, Executive Director, Catholic Schools, Camden Diocese.
Diocese of Camden
Office of Catholic Schools
June 16, 2011
Representative Robert Andrews
C/O Brandon Schantzer
515 Grove St
Haddon Heights, NJ 08035
Dear Representative Andrews,
Thank you for your recent letter regarding the closing of St. Mary School in Gloucester. Whenever we face situations like this, emotions run high and frustrations are many. I think it important you know that the pastors did not come to the decision to ask to close the school without great thought and discernment.
In fact, the roots of this difficult situation really go back to January 2008 when the pastor at St. Mary in Gloucester Monsignor Curran and representatives from the school met with Bishop Galante to express concern about the school’s growing financial problems. At the meeting, they asked to borrow money to allow the school’s newly formed advancement program time to cultivate relationships with members of the St. Mary community to increase giving to the school and to increase enrollment.
Through the hard work of advancement director Dawn Burkhardt and a group of dedicated volunteers, the school has implemented and had some success with an annual fund. Unfortunately, results seem to indicate that the money needed was just too great.
In addition to loans the diocese granted totaling $400,000, we also added additional financial support by regionalizing two parishes with St. Mary School in 2010-2011. This too has proven to be not enough to overcome the reality that the school’s falling enrollment created (since 2007, enrollment has fallen from 236 to 155 projected for next year).
This year, representatives from the Office of Catholic Schools and the Finance Office met with the school’s principal, bookkeeper and members of the school board finance committee in February to discuss the budget for 2011-2012. All who attended saw the worsening financial challenge. On May 10, diocesan representatives met with the pastors, their financial representatives, community members and members of the board to discuss the financial realities. Bishop Galante then met with the pastors on May 17. Because of overwhelming financial problems this year (a projected deficit of $150,000) and projected for next year (more than $250,000) and the coming years, they asked to close the school.
Know that we will continue to help those impacted by this very difficult situation as they move on to other Catholic schools in the area.
Executive Director, Catholic Schools
631 Market Street, Camden, NJ 08102 • (856) 583-6103 (phone) • (856) 756-0225 (fax)