Parents fight losing battle

Published 12:08 am Sunday, May 18, 2008

NATCHEZ — When it was announced in March that grades one through four of Holy Family Catholic School would be closing, parents were incensed, but not ready to give up.

The Parent Teacher Association asked the Catholic Diocese of Jackson to take a second look, and the PTA even proposed some ideas of their own.

But with commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 23, the realization that the four grades won’t be returning has become all too clear.

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The archbishop of the diocese composed a letter to school representatives listing a myriad of reasons as to why the school would be closed.

The letter said the concerns for Holy Family had been accumulating since the 90s, including decreased enrollment, the decrease of teaching sisters, unpaid tuition and debt incurred by the school.

One of the first concerns the PTA tried to tackle in order to keep the school open was enrollment.

PTA member Margaret Kafperski said in trying to keep the school open, the PTA worked to leap the hurdles she felt the diocese set before them.

Kafperski said the PTA was upset that the diocese’s enrollment minimum seemed to be a moving target. At one point, she said, the goal was 15 per grade. The school met the requirement, but it was soon changed to 17, then to 20.

“It was never good enough,” Kafperski said.

PTA member Cynthia Williams agreed that whenever a goal was met, the diocese would raise the bar.

“Every meeting we would go to it was something different,” she said.

As far as paying back the $73,000 the school owed the diocese, Williams said they had enough money pledged by people to pay it all back.

“When (the diocese) found out we had come up with the money, even though that was done, they still did not agree to let the grades stay open,” she said.

Some of the parents said the removal of the grades really isn’t about money.

“We will never really know the reasoning,” Kafperski’s said.

The grades left at Holy Family are preschool and kindergarten levels.

Registration is still continuing for those grade levels and as of Friday afternoon, 87 children had registered. Representative from the diocese said they would not comment.