St. Colette Catholic School in Rolling Meadows could close amid enrollment, funding shortfalls
A dozen years after receiving a national award for educational excellence, St. Colette Catholic School in Rolling Meadows could be ordered by the Archdiocese of Chicago to close at the end of the school year.
The archdiocese is expected to decide next month whether to shutter the school on Pheasant Drive, which has been struggling with declining enrollment and budget deficits. The school's estimated shortfall for the 2020-21 academic year is $300,000.
Archdiocese leaders have been in discussions with St. Colette church and school officials regarding the state of the enrollment and finances, archdiocese spokeswoman Anne Maselli said.
"Leadership has engaged the community about the need to increase enrollment and are currently looking for potential options on covering this deficit in order for the school to successfully open next year," Maselli said.
"While the school is at risk for potential closure, it is important to note that no decision has been made. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, will make decisions regarding any potential school closures in January 2020."
Some St. Colette supporters are concerned about the school shutting its doors for good. Among them is Rolling Meadows resident Jean Wenzel, a St. Colette parishioner since 1965. Her three children attended the school and she has two grandchildren there now in kindergarten and fourth grade.
"Many tears and heartbreaks are in the future if our school would close," Wenzel said.
St. Colette has 125 students enrolled this year in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
Principal Joseph Quinlan, who deferred to the archdiocese for comment on the potential closure, wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to parents that the school so far has received a commitment from about 65 students in kindergarten through eighth grade for next year, but another 40 to 50 children are needed to reach the budgeted number. About 40 children typically attend the preschool. "We appreciate the support you have given, but it's now become crunchtime," Quinlan's letter reads. "Should Cardinal Cupich weigh the enrollment and financial shortfall as insurmountable, his decision may not reflect favorably on us."
In 2007, St. Colette was one of only about 200 schools nationwide to receive what was then called the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education. The award recognizes academically superior schools and those that made significant progress in closing the achievement gap.
In working to remain open, the school is pursuing fundraisers such as a weekly Queen of Hearts raffle. Queen of Hearts tickets are being sold at the school, as well as from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Rep's Place sports bar and restaurant, 3200 Kirchoff Road, in Rolling Meadows. The drawings are at 8:40 p.m. Thursdays at Rep's, and there is a guaranteed $100 winner each week.
Mike Reppe, who owns the bar and grill, graduated from St. Colette in 1989. He said the Queen of Hearts raffle and dine-to-donate nights are a couple of ways he's been trying to help the school survive.
"Anybody that can help at this point is definitely someone we want to reach out to or join up with," Reppe said. "There are a few companies that do a lot of things in the community. I just hope they're not spread too thin where they can't help a little bit more."