Important Fundraising Letter from the Principal

From the Desk of the Principal                                                                                                                         

September 2016

Dear Parent,

As we begin a new school year, I would like to make you aware of our fundraising efforts that help to keep tuition costs lower for everyone. The most recent available audited figures – those for the 2014-2015 academic year – reveal a per pupil cost of $7,495. However, the Catholic tuition for one child for the 2014-2015 year was $4750 – meaning that we needed to make up $2,745 per student in order just to meet our overall expenses in that school year.

The gap between tuition income and academy expenses is bridged in part by some funding from NYS in the form of Mandated Services income as well as diocesan assistance from the Mother Seton Charter Income Fund. Finally, contributions that we receive – most from loyal alums of St. Joseph School – and our own fundraising efforts are the remaining sources of income we rely upon to meet our expenses.

For years prior to my arrival in 1998, the parish would make a sizeable yearly contribution to help offset school expenses. That practice was ended by the pastor with the 1998-1999 school year, and the school/academy has operated as a financially independent entity ever since.

It is Academy policy that each family is charged a fundraising fee of $125 which entitles the family to participate in an end-of-academic-year raffle drawing – thus the Academy returns a portion of that fundraising income in the form of tuition rebates to the raffle winners. While the gap between tuition income and overall expenses steadily increases, we have not raised the $125 fee since we began the practice some fifteen years ago.

Instead of raising the fundraising fee which would have a direct impact to every family, we initiated a program of monthly fundraising events/activities and invited participation on a completely voluntary basis to help bridge the gap. These have been relatively successful over the years – on average a 40 to 50% family participation rate combining all the events over the year – although some families have observed that the costs associated with these special events are quite high.

This year we will be reducing the costs associated with each of these activities/events in the hope that more families will choose to participate. Our first annual event, on September 23, is the Walk-A-Thon for Academy Health which raised a substantial amount with 2015 participation fees of $50 for one child and $60 for two and three children families. The 2016 fees are significantly reduced to $30 for one child and $45 for two and three children families. You will be receiving a sign-up flyer on Friday announcing this year’s Walk-A-Thon, and I ask that you give every consideration to supporting the event for the continued good health of the Academy.

It also bears noting that our expenses increase each year, so the success of our fundraising efforts is all the more critical to us with each passing year.   As you may be aware, it is the educational policy of Bishop DiMarzio that all parish elementary schools transition to academy status; of the eighty-four elementary schools in our diocese, seventy-two will have transitioned by September 2016, with the remaining twelve on schedule to do so within the next two years.

While it is diocesan policy that each academy pays a rental fee to its host parish as part of a lease agreement between the parish and the academy’s board of directors, Bishop DiMarzio has waived that yearly fee for the first three years of any academy’s existence in order to provide time for the academy to become financially viable.   St. Joseph Catholic Academy came into existence in September 2012 and entered its fourth year last year – the 2015-2016 academic year. Therefore, last year was the first year that our academy paid rent to St. Joseph Parish as part of our lease agreement. This yearly expense moving forward further increases the need for successful fundraising efforts at the academy. One final point – the parish holds its own fundraising events and activities and invites the participation of Academy families; though the Academy does not realize any direct financial support from any of these parish fundraisers, I encourage those of you who can to consider supporting them.

I have often described a common bond between parents and teachers at St. Joseph as one of shared sacrifice that enables the children to benefit from the gift of a Catholic education. The approximate cost to the taxpayer in New York City for each child who attends a public elementary school is $15,000.   It is largely because of the sacrifice of our teachers whose salaries are far less than their public school counterparts that we are able to keep tuition costs down – at about one-third the cost of a public school education. Those of us who have committed our lives to the Catholic school system remain deeply indebted to you – the parents – who also sacrifice to give your children this precious gift. The fact that you are determined enough to want your children to be exposed to Catholic values and to a school day that endeavors to help them form a relationship with God shows that you are willing to make financial sacrifices; this is a special grace and we deeply appreciate you for it. Our combined sacrifices serve to make Catholic education the most economical form of private education in our country.

I trust that this background information helps to explain how vital our fundraising efforts are to the future viability of the Academy, and that you will do your best to support the activities and special events that have been scheduled during the coming year, beginning with our first event – the September 23 Walk-A-Thon.



Luke Nawrocki