CHICAGO (CBS) — A Catholic school in southwest suburban Chicago Ridge is at risk of closing after this school year, unless it comes up with enough money and students for next year.
Sister Stephanie Kondik, principal of Our Lady of the Ridge School, helped break the news to parents last night. They have until the end of February to find about $250,000 and make sure enrollment for next school year is guaranteed at a minimum of 114 students.
The true current and future deficits total more than $380,000 but that Our Lady of the Ridge Church has chipped in $150,000, according to Kondik. She said this is the first year the school is running a deficit in its 62-year history.
Kondik has been principal of Our Lady of the Ridge School for the past 23 years.
“My life and my heart is here. We do great things here. We’re a small school. We do God’s work as best we can,” she said.
Beth Parillo has two children enrolled in the school.
“We just found out about this last night. We’re quite alarmed that we have such short notice,” she said.
Kondik said she’s heartbroken, but hopeful.
Paula Young graduated from Our Lady of the Ridge School. So did her 25-year-old, and now her 9-year-old is in 3rd grade.
“It’s sad to hear this is happening. I’ve lived in Chicago Ridge all my life, so it’s hard to see this happening.”
There was a sense of confidence the money and students will be found.
“Everybody has to pull together to keep the school open. It could easily happen. It’s going to happen. We’re not closing,” said John Parillo a parent and head of the men’s club.
School board member Christina Lavin said her 1st grade daughter has cystic fibrosis, and the school has been very accommodating to her child. She said she’s hopeful the school will remain open.
“The school has done a lot for families,” she said, “and I don’t think we’re going to give up without a fight.”
Kondik said Our Lady of the Ridge has one of the lowest tuitions of any Catholic school in the Chicago Archdiocese.
Lavin said tuition is $3,600 a year, but is going up to $4,600 a year next year. She said that will still leave the school with one of the lowest, if not the lowest, Catholic school tuitions in the region.