CHARLESTON—If all goes according to plan, Charleston Catholic School will start constructing a new two-story building on its campus in the summer of 2011.
A huge factor in their success hinges on whether they can raise $2 million in a capitol campaign set to launch next month. The good news is, they already have part of that money.
Everyone involved with the project, including Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and Principal Fred McKay, understands that the economic timing of the project is not ideal, but said it is an undertaking that must be done.
Part of their reasoning is that the school already has $1 million sitting in a capitol campaign fund from when the project was first launched back in 2004. At that time, the school had raised $1.5 million when the venture was put on hold. McKay said they used $500,000 of that in 2005 for necessary renovations.
Recently, one of the original donors started questioning what was going to happen with the funds, so the school tapped the Winkler Consulting Group in Mount Pleasant to conduct an audit and planning study to see what their constituents would support.
The findings showed that respondents were happy with teachers, academics and extracurricular programs, but wanted improvements to the facilities, McKay said.
Bishop Guglielmone noted that the school is under great strain because of space issues and said it doesn’t make sense financially to keep making cosmetic fixes when what they really need is more space.
“They really have to do the work,” he said. “It will give them an opportunity to do what they’re doing so much better.”
The plan is to tear down the current one-story kindergarten building and replace it with a two-story facility that will give them an extra 8,000 square feet, McKay said. Sacred Heart Church, which is located next door, will also benefit from the expansion.
The first floor will have larger, updated kindergarten rooms plus office space for school and church personnel. This will free the current office space up to create a teacher’s lounge and an extra restroom.
An elevator will be installed for handicapped access to the second level, which will house a larger art room with a kiln, science and computer labs, and a revamped library.
The former library will be turned into a music room for band and chorus, and the old art room will provide a modernized service kitchen and storage space that will help free up the school’s multipurpose room.
McKay said they hope the improvements will bring in more students, which the school will need to maintain operating costs.
Currently they have an enrollment of 170 students. McKay said they would like to reach full capacity of 225, but don’t want to exceed that because everyone likes the small size and family atmosphere.
So far, Charleston Catholic has received $150,000 in new donations, he said. Each of their contributing parishes — Sacred Heart, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, St. Mary of the Annunciation, St. Patrick and Our Lady of Mercy — are on board and plan to start fundraising efforts in the new year.
The principal added that the City of Charleston also supports the project because it enhances their current efforts to renovate all of King Street.
“We’re really excited, we just think it’s going to be such a great endeavor,” McKay said. “Even in this economy people are supporting charitable organizations, and anybody knows that education is the key to the future of our society.”