Queen of Peace School’s continued existence hinges on parental support“We’ll see where it goes,” said Father David Tushar about a recent proposal floated to the parents of Queen of Peace elementary students to keep the school operating beyond this year.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
“We’ll see where it goes,” said Father David Tushar about a recent proposal floated to the parents of Queen of Peace elementary students to keep the school operating beyond this year.
Since Tushar and school officials announced in November that the K-6 Catholic elementary would close at the end of this school year, a number of people tied to the school have provided their thoughts on ways to keep it open, according to Tushar.
“The current plan came from a combination [of ideas] from parents, school board members and finance council members,” he said.
A sub-committee of the finance council put final touches on the proposal and it was presented to parents on Dec. 22.
Tushar declined to give specifics of the plan but said it includes a tuition increase, enrollment goals and a written commitment by parents along with a deposit to be returned to the school by Jan. 14. “The plan has benchmarks that have to be met,” he said.
Tushar and school officials will begin evaluating their plans once the Jan. 14 deadline passes.
“A lot depends on whether people turn [the form and deposit] in,” Tushar said. “It’s easy to throw out ideas until you have to sign a piece of paper.”
Tushar announced the school’s intent to close in November due to several factors – including enrollment that has steeply declined over the past 40 years.
“In its inception, 233 students were enrolled in the school, which served K-8 students,” Tushar said. “In 1967, when it changed to K-6, we had 183 students. Since then, there’s been a slow but sure decline.”
Currently, the school has only 40 kids enrolled and Finance Council Chair Andrew Genereau said a traditional guideline is upwards of 60 to keep it running. Forty-eight is the highest number enrolled in the past five years.
Tushar and others conducted a phone survey last fall, calling parents who had babies recently baptized in the church. At that time, the number of parents who said they would send their children to the school was dismal. Just 19 of 119 potential students were slated to enroll.
“That’s only 12 percent,” said Genereau.
Queen of Peace, located in Cloquet, is the only Catholic school in Carlton County.