2005-03-04 / Front Page

St. Virgilius Business Plan Takes Shape

Peter Mahon, St. Virgilius school Business Plan Committee member speaks at February meeting held at the American Legion Hall.Peter Mahon, St. Virgilius school Business Plan Committee member speaks at February meeting held at the American Legion Hall.

The Business Plan Committee at St. Virgilius school is almost ready to present the Brooklyn Diocese with a blueprint to keep the school open and has already taken steps to sure up enrollment, The Wave has learned.

The school’s Business Plan Committee finished the “research and review” phase of their investigation into the budgetary and enrollment shortfalls and has been trying to tackle the problems for more than two weeks, according to committee member Peter J. Mahon.

“[O]ur finance committee has been hard at work reviewing, assessing, and where needed revising all school expense and revenue items and streams to generate the basis of our business plan… ,” Mahon said.

Emergency fundraising was also launched. School children and Democratic District Leader Lew Simon collected donations in Rockaway and Broad Channel last weekend, and the Broad Channel American Legion sponsored a “Night at the Races” fundraiser.

“Our fundraising effort over the past 17 days has realized over $100,000 in cash and financial pledges of support,” Mahon said. “We have aggressively pursued a school alumni association which will be used to establish endowment funds to be utilized for enrollment incentives and tuition assistance programs,” he added.

The committee is also in the process of establishing 501.C3 tax-exempt status for fundraising purposes.

A six-point plan has also been proposed for the 2005-2006 school year, if the school reopens. It includes bus transportation for students within a 5-mile radius, a universal pre-kindergarten program, a YMCA sponsored after school program and summer day camp, a professional website, and a “Partnered Parents” program whereby students from outside Broad Channel would be partnered with families that live on the island in case there is a situation where the bridges are closed.

Another component of the plan would be enrollment incentives and scholarships aimed at growing the student population. With only 108 students parents and committee members understand that the school needs many more children to attend. In what could be considered an early victory, Mahon said every student has returned to school with a signed pledge from their parents stating they will not pull their kids out of the school as long as it is open.

A new flyer, which described the 2005-2006 plan and urges families to “Come join us and become a part of our future,” is also being circulated.

Mahon said the Business Plan Committee would give their work to Father John Wtulich, who would then present it to the diocese on the school’s behalf sometime mid-March. Whether the business plan will be met with receptivity remains to be seen.

“The Diocese has not extended to us any assistance or resources to help us in our endeavor to preclude St. Virgilius from becoming simply a part of our island’s history,” said Mahon. “The 30-day deadline… was to say the least, daunting, especially when you consider the fact that the diocese had already issued a statement indicating that it had been aware that the schools within the diocese were experiencing problems with enrollment since 1999…,” he continued.

Mahon credited Rep. Anthony Weiner, Councilman Joe Addabbo Jr., and District Leader Simon for their action since the announcement, and called the cooperation from the parish, school, and students “tremendous.”

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