Thursday, May 3, 2007

Katherine Kersten: On the subject of indispensables, there's St. Agnes

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At this time of year, you stop counting the pro sports teams, big corporations and malls that claim to be irreplaceable Minnesota institutions, and so entitled to hefty public subsidies. But the hungry crowd at the Capitol doesn't include one truly indispensable institution -- St. Agnes High School, a landmark in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood since 1938.

St. Agnes is a victim of the financial and enrollment squeeze that is hitting inner-city Catholic schools around the country. Eighty-five percent of its 200 high school students and 220 K-8 students receive tuition assistance, and in recent years the parish that operates the schools has incurred a debt of more than $1 million in subsidizing them.

On May 8, a decision will be made to close the high school unless something dramatic happens to improve the financial situation, says the Rev. John Ubel, St. Agnes Church pastor and school superintendent. The grade school will stay open.

Is St. Agnes worth saving? Star Tribune

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