Parish leadership wrote a press release and letter explaining the sudden closing of Saint Thomas School.
The parish said:
- There are 24 students enrolled at Saint Thomas.
- Birth rate decline is a contributing factor to low enrollment.
- In 1992 Saint Thomas had 112 students, now it has 24.
- The parish has contributed over $200,000 annually to the school over the past several years.
After the announcement I obtained parish financial data and school enrollment data.
I found the following:
- Financial reports state there are 53 students currently attending Saint Thomas School.
- The birth rate has nothing to do with enrollment. In 1992 there were approximately 504 births, in 2016 – 499. Enrollment is driven by creating demand. This is known as marketing.
- In 1992 Saint Thomas has 112 students. Now enrollment is at 53. Because the population of Bedford County is nearly identical to that of 1992, this only indicates the school was mismanaged.
- Parish financials show the average annual contribution over the past 5 years is $145,521. Not $200,000.
Many of us cannot understand why Father Richard Tomkosky, Lloyd Roach and other parish leaders don’t accurately describe the situation and twist data to fit their case.
What is also concerning is why Lloyd Roach and Father Richard Tomkosky do not feel this school is worth saving.
According to parish documents – over the past 10 years, average annual enrollment was 60 students. Over the past 2 years neither Father Rich nor Mr. Roach have contributed much or anything to the enrollment effort.
Apparently Father Richard Tomkosky is the one person with the authority to keep the school open.
A solution was offered to separate the school from the parish, relieving the parish of all responsibilities, with a proven method – yet Father Richard Tomkosky refused to keep the school open.
The education of 53 children or more and employment of multiple teachers makes it worth the effort to keep Saint Thomas open.
A win-win solution was offered to the parish. The school would be loosely affiliated with the parish, still teaching Catholic values, and the parish would have no financial or managerial obligations to the school. What could be better than that?
William K. Pratt