Cash-strapped Nazareth High School administrators spent last week’s spring break raising some desperately needed funds in their last ditch effort to save their beloved school from closing — but the school has a long road ahead of it if it wants to pay the multi-million dollar debt it’s facing.
“We’re feeling optimistic, but we’re still financially in a hole,” said Nancy Roberts, a guidance counselor at the 50-year-old Flatbush school who is leading a “save the school” campaign to meet its tab to the Brooklyn Diocese.
Two well-off alumns reportedly pledged to donate $3 million apiece to bail out the school, but the big bucks have yet to come in, Roberts said.
“We’ve had some donations, and we have a lot of alumni support, but we have not had any big donations come through,” she said.
Nazareth’s declining enrollment — from 602 students in 2006 to 311 this year — has been a major factor in the Board of Trustees’ decision to bolt the school for good, yet Roberts said the school’s enrollment is on the upswing.
Providencia Quiles, Nazareth’s new principal, has increased tuition by 15 percent in her second year, and this year’s freshman class is bigger than last, Roberts explained.
“When [Principal Quiles] was hired she told the board it was going to take three to five years to turn it around,” said Roberts.
“This is her first freshman class and it’s greater than the year before.”
The final showdown could come down to “dollars and cents,” Quiles told our sister publication, the New York Post.
Nazareth alumni, which includes Hollywood actor William Forsythe and former Knicks player Stewart Granger, continued to protest the slated closure, arguing that the school was more important than its debt.
“It’s a very good high school,” said Granger, Class of 1979. “If you try to take that away because of a financial problem, it hurts the community.”
Nazareth graduates 98 percent of its students and 96 percent go on to college, but the impressive numbers haven’t swayed the diocese, which has yet to comment on the matter, short of referring questions to the school’s Board of Trustees, whose chairwoman Alice Hession didn’t return calls for comment.
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