Our Lady of Peace Middle in North Augusta facing closure
Our Lady of Peace may lose its middle school after this school year.
In a letter obtained by The Star, the Rev. Jacob Joseph said the middle school will not open in 2014-2015 due to financial concerns.
“At this time, the middle school is an area we feel is not financially sustainable,” he said in the letter. “As pastor, I feel I must do whatever it takes to promote financial stability and to work even harder at increasing the number of students enrolled in 4K-5th (grade).”
A group of parents at Our Lady of Peace, led by PTO President Katy Slagle, is trying to save the middle school.
“I have a great tie with this school and this church,” Slagle said. “When I heard (about the decision) I was very upset; I was shocked; I was disappointed; I was sad. Then I started thinking, ‘What can we do to save it?’”
According to Slagle, the school has a yearly operating cost of $426,000 and has paid $220,000 for the school year. The remaining balance for the 2013-2014 school year is $206,000 and, according to financial numbers presented by Slagle, the deficit facing the school is anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000.
“(This is a decision) that came down from the top, driven by finances,” she said. “They didn’t think we could financially make it work anymore. ... We’ve been working ever since (to save the school).”
The decision to close the school was based strictly on finances, according to Slagle.
“This impacts about 20 students, but the bigger picture is that the families that have kids in middle school also have kids in younger grades,” she said. “We believe this will have a dramatic impact on the entire school. So, it is our goal to keep this school complete, pre-k through 8th grade. We have an amazing group of teachers and a capable principal, so we want to keep this going. Reversing the decision to close the school will require money, though.”
The goal for the group of parents is to have a plan in place to raise the needed money and present it to Joseph in one week.
“The reason (for the one week goal) is that the word is out there that we’re closing the middle school,” Slagle said. “We want to get this done now, to try and reverse that as quickly as possible.”
For now, the Our Lady of Peace parents are meeting nearly every night to gather ideas to save the school.
“I’ve been to lots of meetings this week, and I’m not a meeting type of person,” Slagle said. “But, we’re willing to do whatever we have to for this school.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.