The fight to Save Holy Angels Academy is on, with a small committee of parents and alumnae submitting a plan late last week that would keep the private girls school in North Buffalo open.
A written proposal – which includes raising $2.5 million in pledges by the middle of June – was introduced on Friday to the school’s board of trustees and the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, which are expected to give the “Save Holy Angels” Committee a response by early next week.
“We’ve already been in contact with parents, friends, alumnae from across the country and we’re guardedly optimistic our proposal is going to work,” said Mike Hoodmaker, one of the spokesmen for the Save Holy Angels Committee. “It’s all going to depend on whether the board of trustees feels the same way we do.”
The proposal, Hoodmaker said, includes raising $2.5 million to provide a cushion for next year and pay back outstanding debt, which includes roughly $600,000 the Grey Nuns took out of their retirement fund and gave to the school.
The committee is “guardedly optimistic” about raising the money, based on what people have said they are willing to do, Hoodmaker said Saturday.
The proposal also identifies new strategies for financial stability, sustaining enrollment and strengthening the curriculum and alumnae involvement, he said.
“It’s not a short-term plan, it’s a long-term plan,” said Hoodmaker, who has two daughters that graduated from Holy Angels and two who attend currently. “It’s going to take a while for us to get to where we want to be, but we’re willing to fight that fight.”
Officials at the 152-year-old school announced on April 30 that Holy Angels will close in June citing several factors, including declining enrollment and a major roadblock with a once-promising international program to bring in foreign students.
The news of the closing immediately brought an outpouring of support from the community, alumnae and parents of the 240 students at the private school for girls in grades six through 12.
The Save Holy Angels Committee includes Hoodmaker; Colleen Ward Bogdan, past president of the Holy Angels Alumnae Association; Kathryn Rehak Shoemaker, an alumna; and Paul Gareis and Daniel Ward, both parents of Holy Angel students.
“It wasn’t just five people who said, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ ” Hoodmaker said. “It was a lot of long, long nights crunching numbers, phone calls and listening to parents, students and alumnae.”
While the committee is unsure of what the response will be to the proposal, it is grateful the board of trustees listened to ideas for saving the school.
“We don’t want to see it end,” Hoodmaker said, “at least not without giving it our best shot.”
School officials couldn’t be reached for comment late Saturday.