Saturday, February 28, 2009

St. Matthias hopes new pre-kindergarten classes will keep school solvent

Third beat report. You have no idea how happy I was to file yesterday, I've been having such a hard time keeping up with the assignments and learning how to go out and find a "news" story. I was at my lowest Thursday when a story that took me weeks to confirm contacts was deemed not newsworthy. But, I dusted my shoulders off, pulled it together Friday, and turned in this story and got leads on three others.

Courtesy of State of the School Report and 2009-2010 Tuition Information.

St. Matthias Transfiguration School in Lincoln Square sees increase in enrollment despite overall decline in Catholic schools.

St. Matthias Transfiguration Elementary School in Lincoln Square is moving to secure its financial future by adding a new pre-kindergarten class next school year.

As other area Roman Catholic schools scramble to address stagnant or declining admission numbers and an unsure future, the addition of a new class continues a trend of increasing enrollment at St. Matthias.

“We weren’t able to admit any more people,” said Deborah Bukovy, marketing and admissions director at St. Matthias. “So that’s why we decided to open another class so that we could admit people [within and outside of the St. Matthias] community”

St. Matthias will add a new pre-kindergarten class for three- and four-year-old students for the 2009-2010 academic year, doubling its pre-kindergarten program: two PreK for three year olds (PreK 3) and two PreK classes for four year olds (PreK 4).

The idea to add another class first arose in October as families in the school applied for the following school year. St. Matthias had only one PreK 3 class and 20 children from existing families applied, taking up all the available space.

With the new additions St. Matthias will have two classes instead of one per grade up until 2013, when the school projects it will run out of room. “We’ll either look at doing a capital campaign or we’ll cut back the number of children that we enroll so we can use the space we have in the building,” Bukovy said.

The influx of students, which Bukovy attributed to gentrification in the neighborhood, will put the school on “a more stable economic footing,” she said.

“Since we’re one of the only private schools in our immediate neighborhood, they choose us,” Bukovy said. “What we’re seeing is … young people who have children are staying here longer instead of moving out into the suburbs.”

Parents with children in private schools are facing tough decisions during the recession, with some opting to move their children to less expensive Catholic or public schools. Catholic schools require families to raise $100-$500 for the school on top of tuition and fees, which can reach upwards of $8,550 at Gordon Tech High School, on the city’s Northwest Side.

“Everybody makes a sacrifice when they send their child to private schools,” Bukovy said.

Marie Neis, principal of St. Genevieve School in the Belmont-Cragin community, said financial aid needs have increased in the last three years as parents’ incomes are cut because of “reduction in hours and jobs being cut.”

While Neis said St. Genevieve is “very supportive and [tries] to work with families,” she said she is aware of the possibility her school will close if the Archdiocese of Chicago or donations did not continue to cover operating costs.

“We certainly [wouldn’t] be the only school in that situation if that were to happen,” Neis said.

Despite stagnant enrollments at schools like St. Genevieve, St. Matthias’ has grown considerably: Enrollment has increased 25 percent in the last five years, Bukovy said.

By securing students at a young age, the school is looking to retain students and keep its doors open.

“We want to keep them happy and satisfied,” Bukovy said, “and hope they stick with us through the duration of their elementary [schooling].”

St. Matthias Transfiguration School is committed to providing a well-rounded Catholic educational experience that emphasizes academic achievement and fosters spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical development among its students, thus enabling them to contribute effectively in a constantly changing world where faith in God, respect for self and others, and hope for the future are essential.


Anonymous said...

They're more famous quotes Marie Neis saids like "Melinda I'm going out to eat now, I'll be back in the afternoon," "That's very disrespectful stop that or I will eat you," and last "Arrhh, Ms. Bru go check that out."

Anonymous said...

Even Ewa said "grizzy women she is," "That coat makes her look like a grzzley bear," and also the last one from her is "she scares me."

Anonymous said...

Eats children when angered.