Dwindling enrollment and significant subsidies from the parish of San Buenaventura Mission have left the future of Holy Cross School in limbo, for now. Father Tom Elewaut, who came to the mission in 2011, sent out a letter to parents on Feb. 8, stating that the school’s budget had become a significant issue for the parish’s resources.
“I truly desire to support and maintain a Catholic school program at the Mission; however, the parish cannot realistically continue to subsidize Holy Cross School at the levels in recent years,” Elewaut wrote, noting that the annual parish subsidy had grown annually to $260,378 last year, totaling $486,732 from the parish, Together in Mission, Catholic Education Foundation and school fundraising efforts. Cumulatively since 2011 the total is $2.85 million. “Again, it appears that Holy Cross School has completed its mission as a parish school at Mission San Buenaventura.”
The school has been open since 1922 staffed by the Sisters (Congregation) of Holy Cross, but declining enrollment from 171 in 2011 to 119 in 2018 has strained the parish’s resources, plus the fact that teachers want to live in their own homes and not on campus, which creates higher budget costs. In an effort to keep the school open, Elewaut asked the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Department of Catholic Schools for assistance. The response was positive for the current school year.
“After careful deliberation, Archbishop Jose Gomez has decided to support these efforts and he has committed to finance Holy Cross School for 2018-2019 school year,” Elewaut wrote in a Feb. 13 letter to the parents of Holy Cross School. “The Department of Catholic Schools will assume oversight and governance of Holy Cross School and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will ensure the school’s financial stability. In the coming months there will be a feasibility study conducted of current parents and community members to gauge the level of interest in potential programs at the school to identify what is most desired in the community.
“The commitment of the Archdiocese is for the 2018-19 school year so there must be growth in enrollment for the school to remain open past that point. Our goal for this coming year remains 15-20 new students, which would result in a school enrollment of 130 at the start of the year in August. For the 2019-20 school year, the goal will be to have 150 students enrolled.”
Elewaut said that he had tried to rally parents in the past to help boost school enrollment, to no avail, as parents opt out of higher-cost Catholic education in favor of public education and using the money for other purposes, such as family vacations and additional relevant items.
For more information, go to www.holycrossventura.org.