By Carla Zanoni
INWOOD — A fundraising drive. An alumni association. An early education facility.
These were some of the ideas student parents and alum came up with in their fight to keep the doors of Good Shepherd School open in the wake of the Archdiocese of New York’s Nov. 9 announcement that it had been placed on a list of 31 schools in New York City labeled "at risk" of closing.
After an initial meeting before Thanksgiving, the group gathered again Monday night at the school, on Isham and Cooper streets, to discuss which proposals should be included in a final draft presented to the Archdiocese next week.
"Tonight's meeting was very informative," alum Juan Castrillon wrote in an e-mail addressed to meeting attendees. "We definitely left there with a greater sense of hope that a plan is in motion to save our school."
The only way the group will be able to keep the doors open is to come up with a plan to cover the $355,000 in yearly operating costs the school comes up short each year, a shortage currently covered by the Archdiocese.
"The coffers are running dry," Abbatiello said of the Archdiocese last Monday. "Five thousand bake sales would not help us here, it’s a matter of enrollment. We can’t simply rely on our benefactor to float the school."
The Good Shepherd School Advisory Committee, comprised of the school’s Rev. Robert Abbatiello, school principal Mary Singer and three alumni, will work with executive, finance and facilities, development and enrollment/curriculum subcommittees, which will take on a multi-pronged approach to saving the school.
The plan so far includes a fundraising drive where interested parties can donate money for the cause on the school’s website, the creation of a cost saving five-year financial plan for the school, the development of an alumni association to better engage graduates, the institution of a tuition assistance program to bring in new students and new recruitment initiatives, including a new open house event in late January.
The school is also looking into beginning a universal Pre-K/Head-Start program, reportedly in great need in Upper Manhattan, as well as the possibility of its own high school, which would retain current students enrolled. Right now the school only runs through eighth grade.
The committee will now work on creating a cohesive proposal to present to the Archdiocese on Dec. 6, before a final decision is made in January 2011.