“They had a proposal for us. We had some questions for them,” said Tony Abts, president of ACES Xavier. “We went back to our finance committee to work on some things. They’re coming back with some answers. Both sides are working together to see if we have a plan that we can go forward with.”
Catholic Central is one of four elementary schools in the ACES Xavier school system. Due to declining enrollment concerns and a projected budget shortfall in the 2010-2011 school years, the ACES corporate board had decided to close one of the schools at the end of the current school year.
However, a concerted grassroots effort arose and came forward with a four-point plan to keep all the system schools open. The plan was presented to Bishop David Ricken and the ACES board of trustees, as well as the general public at a Nov. 17 town hall style meeting. The plan includes:
• Increasing enrollment at all the schools;
• Promotion and marketing of the system;
• Opening a daycare center at the Catholic Central site.
Deacon Gerry Schraufnagel of St. Mary Parish, which owns the building housing Catholic Central, said that the main efforts since Nov. 17 have been on fund-raising and getting information out about ACES.
“We have about $475,000 pledged, over a three-year period,” he told The Compass on Dec. 4. “Our plan is not just a one-year fix; it’s a forever and ever fix and includes increasing enrollment at all ACES campuses.”
Abts has stressed that the ACES system is not currently in a deficit, but would save $450,000 by closing one school now. If they do not close a school at this point, with continued declining enrollment and the increasing costs, the system would face a projected deficit of $304,000 in the 2010-2011 school year.
“It all comes down to being able to grow enrollment,” he said. “That’s the heart of the mission. And the best place to recruit is in our Catholic parishes — to let people know what we have to offer and how it’s a benefit to kids.”
He added that, since September, the system has seen an increase in enrollment of 17 students.