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St. Michael's Episcopal School may have to close if funding isn't found

St. Michael's Episcopal School may have to close if funding isn't found

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Officials at St. Michael’s Episcopal School said Wednesday that unless their funding situation immediately changes, they likely will have to shut down as early as November.

Kate Lucchese, who took over as head of school in August 2010, said the private school started accumulating debt four years ago when enrollment began dropping.

When Lucchese took over last year, enrollment was about 80 students — down about 140 from when the founding head retired in 2006. Two other top administrators oversaw the school in the interim.

Starting enrollment this year was 86, with tuition costing about $8,000 per student.

Two weeks ago, Lucchese received a call from an outside auditor indicating the deficit had reached $350,000 and was quickly consuming this year’s budget. By the end of the first month of school, two-thirds of the revenue budget had been used to pay off the debt.

The school has enough money to cover payroll expenses through October, but needs another $350,000 to carry it through the fall semester, and about $550,000 to carry them through May, officials said.

Lucchese acknowledged better oversight should have been in place regarding the budget problems and that “growth expectations were more optimistic than they should have been.”

“When we looked at the budget in the spring, we said, ‘Oh my, we have to raise a lot of money,’” she said. “But we didn’t know how soon.”

Administrators are calling on alumni, parents and any community donors to pitch to keep the lights on through the first semester. 

More on this story in tomorrow's Eagle.

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