Community fights to save high school

April 13, 2009 It is scheduled to close the end of the year unless the school raises $1 million.

A groundswell of fundraising brought in more than half in just a few days.

ABC7 has heard of creative ways parents and administrators have tried to save their schools from closing like auctioning art work and closing school for days to save money on staff.

The community around Driscoll Catholic School is using technology and business savvy to win their school some more time.

The baseball game was canceled at Driscoll Catholic High School due to weather. But that's not the headline.

The big news is an aggressive campaign to save the school from closing may work.

"It's an amazing thing to say. A week ago I was hoping to have 500,000 by Easter. We're ahead of that. We have a long way to go. We need $400,000 more," said Dave Schwabe, Driscoll's director of development.

An example of the campaign is Driscoll's freshman baseball coach and teacher who are fundraising even though the game was canceled and school is out for Easter Monday.

Steve Erzig is a Driscoll alum as well. He says campaign is a real life lesson for the students.

"There's an outpouring of support that has really shown them what the school is about and what this whole goal that we've been teaching them is about. It's not just you on your own. It's us as a family doing this together," said Erzig.

Last week, parents attended an emotional meeting at the school.

The diocese of Joliet had announced low enrollment and financial projections resulted in the need to close the school next year. But parents and community members mobilized and have been peddling Driscoll's new business plan to survive next year and beyond. It's apparently worked.

The committee, called "Driscoll The next 43 years," has raised $600,000 so far, harnessing support and expertise from alumni and the community.

"Our backs were to the wall where we were told we were going to close. And everybody wants to be a part of that success," said Scott Warren, Driscoll The Next 43 Years.

"If all of these different factions are involved with the recruitment process, I have no doubt that the school will exceed, well beyond our wildest imagination," said Joan Sinnott, Driscoll The Next 43 Years.

The committee has until the 20th to come up with the $1 million. Their plan includes long term recruiting to prevent this type of emergency fund raising.

There's a fundraiser on Monday night and more later this week.

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