Park Falls school to remain open

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Declining enrollment and falling revenues threaten to shutter St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School. The Park Falls community is banding together to keep the 92-year-old institution open in 2014-15. (Submitted photo)
The Park Falls community is banding together to keep the 92-year-old institution open in 2014-15. (Submitted photo)

PARK FALLS — St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Park Falls will open for the 2014-15 school year.

Fr. Shaji Joseph Pazhukkathara, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, delivered the news to parishioners Feb. 8-9.

“We’re not quite over the hump yet, but we’re near enough that we feel we can balance a budget for the 2014-15 school year,” said Jim Litwaitis, chairman of the St. Anthony Finance Council.

The school is accepting registrations for all grades pre-3 through 8 for the 2014-15 school year.

As of Sunday, Feb. 16, the school had received $204,593.33 in gifts and pledges for the 2014-15 school year and the school’s endowment fund.

Approximately $30,000 of that total was designated by donors to be invested in the endowment fund, leaving the school about $45,000 shy of balancing the books for 2014-15.

“Our immediate challenge remains $220,000 for the 2014-15 school year,” Michael Plemon, St. Anthony School principal, said. “We promised to make a decision on the 2014-15 school year in early February in fairness to our students and families, our staff, our parish, the Chequamegon, Butternut, Phillips and neighboring school districts, and to our community. We’re obviously excited that the decision is for our school to remain open.”

“God has blessed us greatly through the support of our parishioners, school families, alumni and community members,” said Len Schmidt, chairman of the strategic planning committee appointed by Fr. Shaji to develop a plan for the long-term future of the school. “We’re nearing the first hurdle. We felt we had to keep the school open next year to give us time to work on the next 100 years, and we’re able to do that. Now we can continue with a plan to provide Catholic education in our communities into the school’s second century.”

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