PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) -- On May 2, after consultation with the Office of Catholic Schools and Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, Rev. Anil Thomas, pastor of St. Peter Church, decided that St. Peter Catholic School will not reopen for the 2012-2013 school year. The decision is based on the low pre-registration enrollment.
Rev. Thomas made a decision early in April to accept enrollment from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade with the anticipation that there would be enough students to enroll in these grades to provide the income for operation next school year. The enrollment target was 60 students. On May 1, with only 37 students registered for the fall, it was decided that St. Peter Church could no longer financially subsidize the operation of the school.
In November 2011, Rev. Thomas proposed his Seven-Seven-Seven Campaign. In seven days he wanted to raise $175,000 to keep the school open for seven months and to develop a seven-year plan. His first two goals were realized. Donations of $175,000 allowed the school to remain open through this month. In developing the seven-year plan, it became evident that sustained enrollment plays a major part in the viability of a Catholic school. All Catholic schools typically use tuition to cover the majority of their operational expenses.
The school will maintain a regular school calendar through May 25. The school currently has 58 students in pre-kindergarten to sixth grade, five teachers and four staff members. Its interim principal is Sylvana Niciteretse.
St. Peter School is one of the oldest Catholic schools in the state. It is the last predominantly black Catholic school in the state. It opened 122 years ago as the Colored Industrial Institute.
(Source: Diocese of Little Rock)