Several parents of children who attend St. Eugene's Catholic School on Chicago's Far Northwest Side have started an online fundraiser with the hope of raising enough funds to keep the school's doors open.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago informed parents last week that $250,000 must be raised by January, or else the school will be closed. The Archdiocese said the school "operates at a deficit, and enrollment is below the optimum level."
Steve Rog, a parent and alumnus of St. Eugene's, said he and other parents were "blindsided" by the decision.
"It's the first time we've heard of it," Rog said, recounting when he learned about the impending closure last week. "We've had new parents who came in at the beginning of the year. Nothing was communicated to them."
Parents said they aren't upset by having to raise money, but by the short notice and lack of a long-term plan from the Archdiocese.
"We can meet our fundraising goals, we don't doubt that. But we want some sort of commitment from the Archdiocese that we have a long-term future for St. Eugene's," said parent Lorraine Kerr.
In an email to NBC 5, an Archdiocese spokeswoman confirmed a fundraiser was underway, and said the Archdiocese committed $50,000 to the effort.
Parents hope the Archdiocese will consider merging St. Eugene's with another school.
"We need some future, not just for us, for our children," Kerr said. "They need to have some kind of longterm stability and realize that's really what we're looking for."
St. Eugene's will remain open at least through the end of the school year.
The Archdiocese's decision to close St. Eugene's remains separate from its restructuring plan that called for the merger of several others schools and parishes.