St. Alphonsus school in Prospect Hts. may be forced to close
Administrators and parishioners recently learned that St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic School in Prospect Heights will close at the end of its current, 58th school year unless it receives pledges of at least $300,000 by Monday to buy some time to increase enrollment.
Church pastor the Rev. Curt Lambert said the goal is to get the school's enrollment up near 220 students from its current 160.
"We lost a number of number of children from the school. It put us financially in a bind," he said. "Unless we can show we can pay our bills, the archdiocese would like us to close."
While parish leaders had concerns about the school's future dating back to October, word from the Archdiocese of Chicago that the school faced closure didn't come until just before Christmas.
"We have to show that we're still valuable and can make a difference, but we need some time," Lambert said.
The school overcame a similar challenge in the early 1990s through strong marketing of its educational and community value, Lambert said.
In just a matter of days, St. Alphonsus has raised the first $130,000 of its $300,000 goal from parents, parishioners and alumni. Officials hope to keep the school open for one more school year, during which an enrollment drive can take place in full force.
Lambert believes economic factors led to the enrollment decline.
Former student and current volunteer Mallorie Bromer of Wheeling -- who started a GoFundMe page to help the school's effort -- believes there was another factor as well.
After the school's previous principal left last year, there were unfounded rumors that the school might close, and those rumors may have contributed to a drop in enrollment, Bromer said.
That, and the suddenness of the Archdiocese of Chicago's ultimatum, drove her to take action, the 21-year-old Indiana University student said.
"That just made me furious because I had put a lot into this school," Bromer said. "I just couldn't stand to see this school close that has been here since 1958."
Bromer's mother, a former teacher, is now an administrative assistant at the school. Bromer herself still volunteers there whenever she's home from college.
Not only does the school have a music program that inspired her own college major and career choice, but the diversity, grades 1-8 Spanish instruction and host of service projects would make the closure of St. Alphonsus a loss for the entire community, Bromer said.
Her own GoFundMe page had raised only $1,300 of its $150,000 goal as of Tuesday, and its all-or-nothing nature means she won't know whether it will have contributed anything to the school's overall financial goal.
Those interested in contributing directly to the school can make their pledge to Bromer's mother, Linda, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or faxing it to (847) 255-0353. Pledges need to include the donor's name, email address, phone number and dollar amount.
While the pledges need to be made by Monday, the donations don't have to be received until March 31.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office of Catholic Schools acknowledged the pledge drive wrapping up on Monday is to fund the school's financial deficit for the 2016-17 school year.
"No final decision regarding the future of St. Alphonsus Liguori School has been made," the statement reads. "Strategic planning for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago is always ongoing. We will let you know when we have information that we can share."