St. Florian Catholic School Gets Closure Reprieve

Community raised $100,000 in a month

By Regina Waldroup
|  Monday, Mar 3, 2014  |  Updated 9:10 PM CDT
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St. Florian Catholic School, one of several area elementary schools marked for closure by the Archdiocese of Chicago, will remain open thanks to a successful fundraising campaign.

St. Florian Catholic School, one of several area elementary schools marked for closure by the Archdiocese of Chicago, will remain open thanks to a successful fundraising campaign.

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St. Florian Catholic School, one of several area elementary schools marked for closure by the Archdiocese of Chicago, will remain open thanks to a successful fundraising campaign.

"It was a very humbling and extraordinary experience," teacher Emily Yovich said.

The school received the news in January that six financially struggling Catholic schools, including St. Florian, would close in June.

"It was hard news to hear," Principal Krisa Wilkinson said.

"For those of us who don't have children, these are our kids," Yovich said.

Students and parents in the Hegewisch neighborhood quickly jumped into action and started raising money to keep the school operating. Seventh grader Jennifer Dejanovich started a Facebook page asking for donations and any fundraising help.

It worked. The community raised more than $100,000 in one month, and last week the school got good news from the Archdiocese.

"There was a phone call on Wednesday," Principal Wilkinson said. "Then an email. It was hard to wait on that email. All day we had calls coming in."

In the end the school will be allowed to remain open, but not all the schools due to be shuttered will share that story. 

Last year, five Catholic schools closed to deal with an ongoing deficit.

Cardinal Francis George said last February that administrative operations were running with $30 million operating deficits for the previous four years.

Dejanovich urged other communities to keep trying.

"Don't give up," she said. "It can happen. You can save your school."

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