Schools in the diocese see need for emergency funding

CHARLESTON—Bishop England High School sent out a mass appeal March 31 on behalf of its students and their families who have already been financially impacted by COVID-19.

In it, Patrick Finneran, principal, bluntly stated the need for emergency funding as families grapple with lost jobs or fewer hours and are no longer able to pay tuition.

He said he has received phone calls from a number of distressed parents who have lost their jobs, at least for the foreseeable future, as a result of the novel coronavirus.

“Their jobs are at risk. Their children are struggling to adjust to the challenges of social distancing from classmates and support systems. Plus, we’re unsure how long the pandemic will be a widespread risk to our community,” Finneran said.

And Bishop England is not alone.

“I think every school in the diocese is going to have this issue,” said Jacqualine Kasprowski, associate director for secondary education for the diocese.

She noted that most families had already made their tuition payment for March but predicted the end of April would be a bad time.

Schools are dependent on tuition income for their budgetary expenses, Finneran said, noting that at Bishop England it accounts for more than 90% of the budget.

“Tuition helps cover everything from teachers’ salaries and benefits to computer leases that enable our teachers to create the virtual learning environment,” he said.

It also supports student clubs and organizations, athletics, custodial staff and utilities.

In addition to lost tuition, schools are also facing the loss of spring fundraisers that they rely on for a financial boost, said Sandra Leatherwood, superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Despite the current difficulties, Leatherwood said Catholic schools share a unique family bond and praised the fact that some people are still donating even though fundraisers have been cancelled, trying to help keep the schools going.

And the schools will continue to do their part, she said, providing academic instruction, faith formation, and reaching out to help struggling families.

Finneran said the need for funding is urgent for Catholic schools, but said even if families can’t pay the tuition right now, the students will continue to attend.

“We’re not going to let the kids go,” Leatherwood said. “It’s not the kids’ fault, it’s not the parents’ fault. We’re Catholic. We’re going to do the best we can to help these families.”

Call your schools for more information on how to help.

See the letter from Bishop England High School here.