TERRE HAUTE —
St. Patrick School will undergo some changes next year with the goal of making a Catholic education more accessible and affordable to more families.
Starting July 1, the school will become “St. Patrick School of the Terre Haute Deanery,” which includes 10 parishes and five counties.
All Catholic children of the Terre Haute Deanery will be able to study at the school at the same tuition rate as children of St. Patrick Parish.
Currently, there is a three-tiered tuition system, one for families who are members of St. Patrick’s Church (one child is $2,317); another, higher rate for members of other deanery parishes (one child is $5,120); and a third rate for non-Catholic families, who pay the most (one child is $5,820), according to the school website.
A school task force has met for the last two years, said Father Rick Ginther, pastor of St. Patrick and St. Margaret Mary churches. Its work is based on a Deanery Strategic Plan of 2011.
One of the charges from then-Archbishop Daniel Buechlein two years ago was that there would be a Catholic school in the deanery, and it was to be “affordable and accessible for all Catholic students” in the deanery, Ginther said.
He’s pleased with the upcoming changes.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “It’s been my hope since I arrived here eight-plus years ago that we could move in this direction.”
The task force has come up with a new financial and governance plan for the school. A new school commission will include members from all 10 deanery parishes.
On the finance side, as host parish, St. Patrick Church will continue to support the school with about 49 percent of Sunday and Holy Day collections. All other deanery parishes will contribute between 1 to 4 percent of their Sunday and Holy Day collections, depending on proximity to the school.
Other Vigo County parishes will pay 4 percent of those collections; parishes in Vermillion and Clay counties, 2 percent; and parishes in Parke and Putnam counties, 1 percent.
The task force studied various funding models, but the one used appeared to be the most equitable and sustainable, Ginther said.
Over the next several months, more detailed information about the deanery school will be presented and sent to all deanery families with school-age children. An open house is slated for Feb. 2. New tuition rates will be available at that time, along with information on how to register a child for the 2014-15 school year.
The St. Patrick School budget is about $1.6 million for 2013-14. The school currently is funded through tuition — including the state-supported voucher program — and a St. Patrick Church parish subsidy. Fundraising is another source of revenue.
Ginther noted that state-supported school vouchers also help make a Catholic education more affordable.
John Fuller, St. Patrick business manager, said that St. Patrick parishioners receive a significant tuition discount because the church subsidizes the school.
With the changes next year, all deanery Catholic students will benefit from a discount because all parishes will help subsidize the school, Fuller said.
The kindergarten-through-eight-grade school currently has 350 students, said Principal Amy McClain. She said the school has the capacity for about 100 more students.
She says she is excited about the changes. The tuition structure “served its purpose for a certain time, but we have passed that time,” she said.
Now, “It’s time to open our arms wide and become a school representing the whole deanery, not just St. Patrick’s,” she said.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin