Mount Saint Mary’s will continue as parish school
Mount Saint Mary’s Academy in Grass Valley will remain a parish school, though St. Patrick’s Church won’t financially support the institute, parish priest the Rev. Tim Nondorf said Tuesday.
If current enrollment levels continue, the school can expect to remain open next year. But students can expect instruction in combined-grade classrooms unless many more young people enroll.
The change in the school’s immediate outlook comes after the Diocese of Sacramento rejected a proposal to make Mount Saint Mary’s an independent institute.
“There wasn’t enough time for the parents and the parish to address the issues of keeping Mount Saint Mary’s a parish school versus it becoming an independent institute,” Nondorf said.
The failed proposal was put together by a secret committee of parishioners after St. Patrick’s decided in January to cut financial ties with the area’s only Catholic school.
Church leaders no longer want to make up the school’s budget deficits caused by declining enrollment. For the current 2006-07 year, the school budget fell short by $200,000.
School officials and parents are now thinking of ways to keep the 149-year-old school open and financially solvent.
“We are asking for a commitment from (parishioners) to either consider enrolling their children or contribute their time, talent or treasure,” said Sister Anne Marie Miller, principal of Mount Saint Mary’s Academy. “Now the school community and the parish can take ownership for the success of the school.”
Mount Saint Mary’s needs a minimum enrollment of 75 students to stay open, Miller said. The school has a student population of 122, of whom 22 will graduate this school year.
“We are open for registration and application for the next school year,” Miller said.
If the school has fewer than 160 students next year, costs will have to be reduced by combining grades, Nondorf said.
Melissa Damiano, president of the parent club, said the merit of the institute hasn’t been publicized well enough.
“There is a large student population that goes to our parish but doesn’t attend our school,” Damiano said. “We want to see if we can talk to them about what they are looking for.
“We as parents need to talk to our friends and the community about how wonderful the school is. I have two kids who graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s already. I have two more enrolled now. There is truly no other place I’d want to send them,” Damiano said.
Damiano is optimistic the school community can find a solution to the budget problems.
“The outpouring of support from the parents of the enrolled students has been really encouraging,” Damiano said. “We have confidence we’ll be able to figure it out.”
To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4229.
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