Tuesday, January 6, 2009

DOR says MCCS enrollment off by 200

Channel 10 News has posted a story about the MCCS 2007-08 financial statement reported on here yesterday.  There is nothing new in it as far as the financial details are concerned, but the story does report that system-wide "enrollment is down about 200 students from what they originally projected."

This would seem to explain the TV and radio ads DOR is currently running in an effort to attract new students.  They obviously are looking for those 200 students. (I wonder what they would do if they got 1,000? Or even 500?)

Katie Gleason is one of the parents Channel 10 interviewed for their story. Her four children used to attend the now-closed St. John of Rochester School. She says that

her biggest concern is what the future holds for her youngest. “It's hard to work towards something if you don't know what it is, if you don't know where it's going.”

She and her fellow parents are still concerned about the future. “Is my daughter who just started at St. Joseph's going to continue there through sixth grade? I would say uncertainty is probably the biggest concern, a little bit of bitterness too.”

Given the history of the MCCS she has a right to be worried.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

My question is if the Diocese of Rochester had to sell short term investments to make ends meet last year because total enrollment fell below projections, what will happen to the 11 remaining Catholic schools if they are unable to recruit 200 additional students within the next two years - which is likely due to the financial crisis our Country is in right now.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else foresee bankruptcy for the MCCS as their balloon payments come due in the next few years?

Anonymous said...

Those 200 were probably students who couldn't get financial aid anymore. The diocese probably doesn't really miss them. Releasing that number is a way to say there is more room than anticipated for new students, if you want your kids in classes of 30 students!
Registration starts this week, wonder how much the enrollment will decline.

Rich Leonardi said...

It's not surprising. When I discussed Catholic schooling with a family member, she said, "Great. They've lowered tuition so that I can afford it, but my parish school is closed. I can't drive around town every morning." Her kids are going public.

Mike said...

Anon. 8:14 and 9:36,

According to their financial report the MCCS realized $2.4 million from the sale of "short-term investments" (while apparently taking a $190,893 loss in the process).

The out-of-pocket costs to close the 13 schools was in excess of $1.2 million.

I suspect the remaining $1.2 million was used to cover last year's budget shortfall, as the report is for the year ending June 30, 2008.

However, at $3,000 per head those 200 missing kids have to represent a $600,000 shortfall in the current year's financial plan. That has to be a problem if it continues for any substantial period of time.

With respect to the balloon payments, the HSBC one is a non-issue. The auditors do report that one is due in October 2014. Given the current monthly principal payments of $2,500 however, the balance due will be zero by October 2014.

The Holy Sepulchre Cemetery note is another issue entirely. It will have a balloon payment of about $522,000 due in October of 2012, given the figures reported by the auditors. That, in itself, is probably not enough to bankrupt the system, but it is still a substantial amount of money.

Anonymous said...

The thing people seem to forget is that the DOR encompasses more than just Monroe County. There are excellent Catholic schools in the surrounding counties which are being completely ignored by the diocese and the public. It is NY law that students wishing to attend a private school within 15 miles of their town receive bussing. For example, students in southern Monroe county could be bussed to school at St. Agnes in Avon(which is in no danger of closing). Rather than promoting these financially stable, community supported schools as options for those families affected by last years closings, the diocese didn't even mention them.

I don't believe the diocese lost those 200 students this year because of tuition or logistical reasons (unless their children would have had to be separated due to space limitations). I believe the diocese lost those students because the families were hurt and were afraid that there will be more closings in Monroe County in the future. Given that they are in a financial hole this school year, I don't understand how they hope to break even next year when they have announced that there will not be a tuition hike for the 2009-2010 school year. How can they even pay their light bills?

Instead of hearing about the dire straits the Monroe County Catholic Schools are in, I would like to hear more about the success stories in the surrounding areas - especially from the diocese that seems to forget they exist.

Mike said...

Anon. 9:03,

You raise some excellent points.

I just drew a 15 mile radius circle centered on Avon on a map and was surprised at how much of southern Monroe County is inside it. Yet, as you say, the diocese essentially ignores the existence of St. Agnes.

I suspect that this is not an accident. Were the diocese to promote non-MCCS schools to people who are potential MCCS parents, it would be effectively working against the plan developed by its committee of "experts." In the process it might be ignoring the best interests of these parents and their children, but I don't think that would bother anyone on Buffalo Rd. in the least.

With regard to the loss of 200 students, some of that is due to transportation issues according to published reports, but I got the sense that such issues only affect about two or three dozen kids.

The rest, I strongly suspect, are gone because their parents have given up on the system.

One mother whose children were displaced by both the 2004 and 2008 closings was quoted in the D&C as being adamant about not risking that kind of emotional upheaval again. Her children are now in public schools.

Any parent with half a brain has to wonder how the 2004 closing of 4 schools accompanied by a change in the tuition model, both of which were designed to "stabilize the system," could lead to the closing of 13 more schools a mere 4 years later. The only reasonable inference here is that the diocese doesn't have a clue as to what it's doing, no matter how many "experts" they have meeting in secret.

The only way I would ever have any faith in the future of the MCCS system is if they demonstrated that they have some faith in themselves. And the only way they could demonstrate that faith is to publish a clear plan for actually promoting and growing the system.

Right now they say they are committed to maintaining the system they have. I'm sorry but that is just not good enough. As is often said of the spiritual life, if you're not moving forward, you're falling behind. Standing still - maintaining the status quo - is nothing but a prescription for decline.

But I do not expect any such plan to be forthcoming from the current administration. Their refusal to run an ad campaign last year shows that they have no intention of ever risking the possibility that they will have so many students that they will have to open another school.

Ora pro nobis.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

I thought you might want to comment about this blog post by one of the D & C's editorial staff?


Anonymous said...

Just a comment on busing. We used to live 2 miles from our kids' school with a 10 min. bus ride. This year we are 7 miles away from the new Catholic school but the bus ride takes 1 hour. So, just because a family is within the 15 mile radius of a Catholic school, the bus ride may not be acceptable.