Regional school in West St. Paul bases growth on building community

| March 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Bridget Kramer has ridden a roller coaster of enrollment that’s now on the rise in this community school serving four parishes.

Formed seven years ago from St. Michael, St. John Vianney and St. Matthew schools, and serving those parishes plus Our Lady of Guadalupe, Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul opened in 2012 with 230 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, as well as a prekindergarten class.

As the communities it serves adjusted to the new configuration, enrollment dropped as low as 131 students in K-8, said Kramer, the principal.

But enrollment is bouncing back, growing 34 percent over the last three years to 176 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Add the 46 students in preschool, and Community of Saints serves 222 students.

“Establishing ourselves as a community really took some time,” said Kramer, who taught at the school when it opened and began serving as principal five years ago. “Parents are happy with the programming and the educational experience their children are having. They are spreading the word to others.”

Kramer also credits the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence in Minneapolis and its outreach to the Latino community and others at public events such as parades and school expositions.

CSCOE’s Latino enrollment coordinator, Maricruz Hernandez, also is a parent advocate for Community of Saints. And the school has an administrative assistant, Angie Lopez, who speaks Spanish, helping many families feel more comfortable, Kramer said.

Community of Saints is raising money for tuition assistance and emphasizing its affordability, she said. The school wants to lower all barriers to a Catholic education, Kramer said.

“We work very hard to fundraise,” she said. That includes taking full advantage of the experience and contacts of a group known as Alums and Friends and Families, which formed in 2007 at then-St. Matthew School and has remained with Community of Saints.

A committee of 12 people in that group publishes a magazine titled The Good News that touts the school and its latest successes, initiatives and history. The publication is distributed to more than 6,000 school supporters four times a year.

“We’re working hard to make sure our story is told,” Kramer said.

Members of the committee also organize fundraisers and contact donors. Since its founding, the group has raised nearly $2 million for tuition assistance, Kramer said. Last year alone, the group raised $275,877, she said.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “It’s a great way to have a broader network to support families who want Catholic school for their kids.”

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Category: Local News