Donations keep Catholic school open

By Chuck Weber

LAKE WORTH, FL (WFLX)-Since the mid-1940's students have attended a small Catholic school in Lake Worth. But recently the school faced the prospect of having to close.

"I'm proclaiming to everyone, we have saved our school," beamed Sacred Heart School principal Candace Tamposi, as she stood with her cheering students in front of the school Friday afternoon. Tamposi said Sacred Heart would remain open for at least 2010-11.

Because of the poor economy, the Diocese of Palm Beach said it could no longer make up the school's operating shortfall. So the school had to raise $350,000 by the end of January-- a tall order for a school of just 180 students, many of which are from poor families.

Money rolled in from donors, small and large, allowing Sacred Heart to stay open. The biggest boost was a $150,000 gift from an anonymous foundation based in Lake Worth. The Rooney Foundation provided $50,000, and two individuals issued challenges to friends to match their $10,000 and $15,000 pledges.

"Whew," breathed a relieved Joanne Maddox, parent of a third grader. "When I found out we succeeded and we were on for next year and we're going to try to keep it going, definitely sleep better at night."

"I am very happy," said Susan Avilla. Her children are the third generation in her family to attend Sacred Heart.

Principal Tamposi said work is already under way to keep the school going beyond next year. She said some business leaders are trying to create an endowment for the school, and are planning a golf tournament in May.

Tamposi said the school would also recruit more students. She said Sacred Heart is about 50 students below capacity, one of the reasons for the shortfall.