Austin Catholic Schools seek to raise $3.5 million

Published 7:15 am Friday, April 30, 2010

Austin Catholic Schools are launching their first capital campaign in 25 years.

ACS announced on Thursday their “Securing Our Future” campaign to seek to raise $3.5 million over three years, aided by a matching grant of $750,000 secured from the Hormel Foundation.

The funds are being sought to provide scholarships, improve teacher compensation, upgrade technology and technical support, modernize and upgrade the science labs, library and media center, address facility upgrades including heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems and benefit the schools’ endowment.

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Chairman of the United Catholic Schools Foundation Steve Holtorf said that the projects will allow the schools to enrich their product, thus attract more students and gain financial stability.

ACS has 205 students at Austin Catholic Elementary (pre-K-5) and 141 in Pacelli Middle and High Schools; 20 percent of those students are non-Catholic.

Holtorf said a recent feasibility study gives ACS confidence that the Austin community will support their campaign.

In the study, completed this winter, 115 people were interviewed about whether they would commit financially to the future of the two Catholic schools. Eighty-two percent said they would.

Fundraising avenues have yet to be determined, other than reaching out to a network of alumni and Austin parishioners.

The campaign has enlisted 47 community leaders to serve on an executive level to assist with the community-wide phase of the campaign.

Member of the Austin Catholic Schools Trustees Father Dale Tupper attended the press conference Thursday, where he noted that the gift from the Hormel Foundation would be the largest ACS has ever received.

“This is an exciting day for us,” Father Tupper said. “We hope the challenge from Hormel will help us to step forward.”

Bishop John M. Quinn of The Diocese of Winona will serve as honorary chairperson of the campaign, and will attend a kick-off May 19 at 6 p.m. at St. Edward Catholic Church, 2000 W. Oakland Ave.

The Dioceses of Winona, of which ACS is a part, is currently home to 25 Catholic Schools. Twenty-one schools serve a total of 3,697 students at the elementary and middle school levels. There are four Catholic High Schools serving a total of 1,191 students.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced this winter that two Catholic schools in St. Paul will close at the end of the school year because of financial problems and dropping enrollment.

More than $1.6 million raised in the ACS capital campaign would go to their endowment, which school officials said will allow for long-range planning of the schools and long term support of parochial education in Austin.

Austin Catholic Schools “Securing Our Future” launch

When: 6 p.m., May 19

Where: St. Edward Catholic Church,

2000 W. Oakland Ave.

Austin Catholic Schools fundraising goals

Technology and curriculum upgrades — $526,000

Scholarships, teacher salary improvements, athletic program enhancements — $990,000

Facility improvements — $359,000

Endowment to support parochial education in Austin — $1,625,000