YONKERS, N.Y. – St. Casimir parents and alumni are vowing to fight to save their school, though they admit they don’t have an easy road ahead.
The school will have to come up with a plan to raise an additional $140,000 each year for the next three years if it wants to stay open, administrators have learned. In documents posted on St. Casimir’s website, school leaders have proposed that money come in the form of tuition increases, ranging from $50 to $100 per month.
On Wednesday, parents, alumni and community members were told of the potential tuition hike during a meeting inside the St. Casimir gymnasium. Afterwards, many said they understood the need and were encouraged the school was taking actions necessary to keep the doors open.
“It was a very productive meeting,” said Marianne Lomoriello, an alumnus of the school. “We’re going to do our best and go down every avenue we can and we are determined to keep the school open for our children academically and for our children spiritually.”
The 109-year-old school on Nepperhan Avenue was one of four Westchester schools designated as “at risk” of closing last week by the Archdiocese of New York. Since then, school leaders have met with members of the local Reconfiguration Committee to find out why St. Casimir was named to the list.
While they learned there are several factors involved, including test scores and the development of a marketing plan, much of it comes down to money, school leaders say.
In past years, the Archdiocese of New York has given the school money to pay for expenses not covered by tuition, like insurance or utility bills. Now St. Casimir has until early January to come up with a plan to prove it can raise $140,000 annually and remain viable without assistance.
In documents posted on the school website, administrators have proposed a pair of plans that would raise the necessary funding by hiking tuition.
In the proposals, tuition rates would rise, on average, between $50 and $100 per month for each student. For many, it would push the annual tuition up from around $3,600 to above $4,000, depending on the selected option.
While a tuition hike may be tough for some to accept, Dorothy Wyka said it may be what St. Casimir needs to survive.
“It can work,” she said. “We have to be confident.”
In the meantime, administrators have encouraged parents and community members to write local politicians and religious leaders, showing their support for St. Casimir. Leon Wyka, a 1942 graduate of the school, said he hoped it would be enough.
“We’re hoping they can pull it though,” he said. “But when the archdiocese makes up its mind their tough to crack.”