Tonight, Wednesday, April 20, Sister Joanne Callahan, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Rockville Center will travel to Stella Maris for a 6:30 p.m. meeting to discuss an issue that’s affecting everyone in the Stella Maris community: the future of the school.
During a school-wide meeting last Tuesday, parents and teachers were informed that the school’s principal, Jane Peters, had resigned and the school is currently facing what the Diocese estimates to be a $480,000 deficit, which will need to be addressed in order for the school to remain in operation for the 2011-12 school year.
“I think the parents and the teachers are feeling blindsided—absolutely blindsided,” said parent Suzanne Wilutis, one of three school board members who resigned last week in the wake of the school’s announcement.
According to Sean Dolan, a media spokesperson for the Diocese in Rockville Center, Stella Maris owes about $300,000 to the Diocese for insurance costs, though this debt “is being put on hold” while the school works to pay off the rest of what it owes. Dolan said the school has racked up about $180,000 in deficit spending, which he attributes in large part to low enrollment numbers. The Diocese itself will give the school $90,000 both this year and next to help balance the school’s budget. He said Stella Maris parents have already raised $50,000, which—in addition to the Diocese’s financial contribution this year—would mean parents now only need to come up with $40,000 by August 31.
“So, you’re getting there, but there are still next year’s problems,” Dolan said.