Parents in Citrus County received some good news going into the holiday weekend. Their community’s only Catholic School, which they had rallying to save, will be able to remain open next school year.
Since they learned in early March that the Diocese of St. Petersburg was thinking about closing Pope John Paul II Catholic School, parents, pastors and alumni had been working with the school’s administration to raise money, recruit more students and come up with a longer-term plan to keep the school viable.
They met Monday with advisers to Bishop Robert Lynch to discuss their five-year plan to grow enrollment at the school and make it financially sustainable.
“We were very impressed with their work, and the bishop agreed with their proposal and wrote them a letter letting them go forward,” said Frank Murphy, a spokesman for the diocese.
The diocese was concerned about stagnating enrollment at the school, located in Lecanto, about 80 miles north of Tampa in the northern reaches of its territory.
Faced with the impending closure, parents and pastors in the surrounding area spent the past two months working overtime to promote the school’s pre-kindergarten program and scholarships that can help low-income parents afford tuition. Dozens of families came to the school.
“We have never had so many families come through and tour our facility,” said Jennifer Petrella, a parent of kindergarten and fourth grade students who also helps lead the school’s marketing efforts.