Catholic School Aims To Boost Enrollment With Gift
By Vanessa de la Torre
March 14, 2012
The mystery donor who gave $2 million to revive the St. Augustine School a year ago has donated $1 million to the city's other Catholic elementary school that has struggled with declining enrollment.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius School on Groton Street received the latest gift, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell announced Tuesday.
The archdiocese's superintendent of schools, Dale R. Hoyt, called it a "blessing" and believed the money will reawaken one of Connecticut's oldest Catholic schools -- beginning with an infusion of financial aid for families unable to afford tuition.
Nearly 225 students were enrolled during the school's centennial in 2004. Over the years, that number has dwindled to 122 children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, a drop that Hoyt attributed to the "economics" of operating a private school in the inner city.
Aside from tuition assistance, Hoyt said, school administrators expect to hire an admissions coordinator in the next few weeks to help boost enrollment to 200-plus students by the fall. Initial plans also include convening a committee that will decide exactly how to improve the academic programs at Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
"When I received the news from the archbishop, it was like we hit the lottery," Principal Joy Chlus said in a statement. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime windfall, and we need to give thoughtful consideration to how to spend the donation wisely."
Chlus could not be reached for further comment. The Rev. Adam Hurbanczuk, pastor of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish, also said he hoped that improvements to the school will increase student enrollment.
Tuition is $1,800 for Catholic parish members and $2,950 for other families. The elementary parish schools each get $25,000 annually for financial aid, said Hoyt, who oversees 63 Catholic schools in Hartford, New Haven and Litchfield counties. But that has not been enough to sustain the urban schools, he said.
Archdiocese officials are now hoping for a turnaround at Sts. Cyril and Methodius that mirrors what has occurred at St. Augustine on Clifford Street.
The school, founded in 1927, was in danger of being closed when enrollment plummeted to roughly 80 students in early 2011. Then last March, the anonymous donor sought advice from Mansell and offered $2 million specifically for St. Augustine, which has since added school programs and a bilingual recruitment coordinator. Enrollment is currently at 200 students.
Hoyt said Tuesday that he prays "the business community and other kind and generous people will step up to the plate."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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