St. Walter School close to fundraising goal needed to stay open as deadline arrives

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St. Walter Catholic Elementary School has been in the Morgan Park community for 65 years and is on the brink of closure.

St. Walter Catholic Elementary School has been in the Morgan Park community for 65 years and is on the brink of closure. Monday's fundraising deadline has arrived and they've almost reached their $365,000 goal.

St. Walter Principal Sharon O'Toole said they are very close to meeting their fundraising goal after an aggressive fundraising campaign and some very generous alumni donors.

"We have some tremendous alumni donors who are successful businessmen in the community who have stepped up because St. Walter School not only continues to be important to them now, but they truly believe in our school and our students today," said O'Toole said.

The school had until Monday to demonstrate to the Archdiocese of Chicago that it raised the money necessary to cover its expected operating budget for the next two years or its doors would close. Dropping enrollment is to blame for the financial crunch.

"Enrollment is a problem for a lot of Catholic schools and what happens is when you don't have the students to fill the seats, your school runs at a deficit," O'Toole said.

Parents have held meetings, fundraisers, Queen of Hearts raffles and collected online donations to meet the hefty goal that was revealed to the community only six weeks ago. With an enrollment of 118 students, many families say they would be lost without this beloved institution.

"My family would be devastated because it's so convenient for us," said grandparent Tysha White. "It's right in the area and it means a lot to us. It's really a family-friendly school."

The school principal is looking for a fundraising extension from the Archdiocese, saying in order to get it they would have to come close to the goal and they're almost there. But St. Walter would need more generous angels in the future or this beloved school will be in the same jeopardy for the 2021 school year, so boosting enrollment is key.

"I hope we can get it together, hopefully, so we can keep and remain open," said parent Tiffany Slaughter.

School administrators will be meeting with the Chicago Archdiocese Tuesday. The Archdiocese will review the funds collected and then decide if they will grant a fundraising extension so the school can raise the rest of the money.
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