Saint Joseph High School reallocate funds to help students

NOW: Saint Joseph High School reallocate funds to help students

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Making private schools affordable during this time can be a challenge. To do so, the staff at Saint Joseph High School, one of the biggest private schools in our area, seek out every funding avenue they can. That includes rearranging their own budget so that any student can safely receive a high-grade faith-based education in South Bend.

Inside Saint Joseph High School, faith is a way of life.

"Faith is part of what we do," John Kennedy, the Saint Joseph High School Principal said. "That's instilled in them.”

But 2020 has shown Principal John Kennedy.

That focusing on student’s health is just as important.

"We have our students and staff, all do a health screening every morning and the teachers check them in the first block of the day to make sure they're complete and our nurse gets those results," he said. "We wrote a pretty comprehensive back-to-school plan, and it had three guiding principles. One was to continue to deliver on our mission, which is to transform students in heart and mind. A second was to protect the health and safety of all. And the third was to foster community.”

There is a community alright. But making sure students are safe returning to school took a little more effort.

"It's been a lot of work," he said.

However, because of its small size, maneuverability has been easier.

"Our plan at the beginning of the year was somewhat based on that the fact that we could pivot more quickly and more easily and be responsive to the data," he said. "So we have you know changed at different times, whether we're fully in person or in a hybrid or fully remote at different times.”

But transforming the way kids learn... isn’t cheap.

"Sometimes you have to reallocate some things to deal with different situations and that can happen for any variety of reasons and this year the reallocation has been to okay, what do we do to protect our students and staff and ensure health and safety of all," he said.

Because private schools like Saint Joseph High School aren’t directly funded by the state, staff have to look for funding elsewhere.

"There's been some funding through FEMA," he said. "Then there's been some funding that was called the gear funding that came through the governor. Then we plan to take advantage of some new funding opportunities through the Eons funding that is coming through the state.”

And tuition fees help too.

"We have about 830 students," Kennedy said. "The tuition is for a parishioner it's about 8300, and for non-parishioner, it's about it's a little more than that, it's just under 10,000.”

Staff set tuition rates, but there are students that fall under another category seeking extra assistance.

"We have 54% of our students are received some type of financial aid," he said. "We have different sources of financial aid, some of it is school choice scholarships."

School choice scholarships, just one topic legislators in Indianapolis are talking about right now.

"What school choice scholarships do they just expand a family's ability to choose where their child should go to school for whatever reason," he said. "So House Bill 1005 expands a little bit, the eligibility for those school choice scholarships so more families can can partake in that can have that opportunity. Increases some of those partial fundings to a little bit more funding, again just to make it more affordable and to have those dollars follow the student.”

Opponents of the bill, saying that money could be better used paying for other things like increasing pay for public school teachers.

“I would say to them, it's about the student. Right.," he said. “Because our goal as a whole state right, is to educate to create a new young people that are going to be contributing members to our community that is going to be contributing members to the workforce to keep Hoosiers here at home. And so you know it's another way for I think the state to support families and support students in getting the best education that's out there for them.”

Funding and faith may be the key issues that distinguish Saint Joe from it’s public counterparts, but in the end, making sure everyone can continue to learn and eventually benefit society is everyone’s priority.

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