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St. Anthony of Padua parish statement on Padua Academy

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(Below is a statement from St. Anthony parish regarding change of leadership at Padua Academy) See Dialog article here.
St. Anthony of Padua Parish is responding to misunderstandings and/or false statements made in social media and quoted in some press reports relating to the change in leadership at Padua Academy:

  • Padua Academy was founded, constructed and has always been administered by St. Anthony of Padua Parish.  The campus was built under the supervision of Fr. Roberto Balducelli, OSFS, Br. Michael Rosenello, OSFS, and countless parish volunteers.  The Padua Academy campus, including all buildings and land, is wholly owned by St Anthony of Padua parish.  Padua Academy has never been independent of the parish, and the parish intends to continue to operate the school as a core component of the parish community. 
  • The Head of School (aka Principal) of Padua Academy reports directly and solely to the Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish.
  • Statements have been made that 15% of Padua tuition revenue are paid to the parish as rent, and that this percentage is being raised.  These statements are false. The parish has never assessed any sort of “rent”, nor has Padua ever paid any rent to the parish, for use of the facilities. 
  • Beginning in 2013, the parish undertook a Parish Pastoral Planning effort — essentially a strategic planning process. A key strategy identified was an examination of all parish assets to determine how to best leverage these resources to ensure the continued vibrancy of the parish as it approaches its second century of ministry. A number of action steps were identified. These include (among other things) the decision to sell the St. Anthony in the Hills property, and the initiation of Stewardship Assessment of Padua Academy beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • The rationale for the Stewardship Contribution is straightforward: historically, the majority of Padua student families were St. Anthony’s parishioners, and contributed to the parish offertory.  Today, 97% of Padua student families are not parishioners.  The goal of the Stewardship Assessment is to replace those offertory contributions. 
  • The parish decided to initiate a phased-in approach to implement the Stewardship Contribution, to minimize impact on Padua’s budget.  The plan calls for a five-year period beginning in the 2016-2017 school year with a $40,000 total assessment (or $60 per student).  The parish also agreed, per the request of Padua Academy leadership, to deduct from the annul total the net revenue earned by the Padua-operated funnel cake stand at the annual Italian Festival. The Stewardship Contribution for the 2017-2018 is $90,000 (or $135 per student). The plan, in its 5th year (2021-2022) will have a Stewardship Contribution of $240,000 (or $400 per student).  As a comparison: Per an independent professional property appraisal obtained by the parish: if school needed to rent comparable facilities on the open market, the cost to rent such facilities would be approximately $1 million annually.  The stewardship contribution by comparison, is less than 25% of this figure. 
  • At the current tuition rate of $13,000 per student the stewardship contribution started at .005% and will move to 3% of tuition at the end of the 5 year plan. The annual stewardship contribution by Padua Academy has no material effect/impact on ongoing scholastic or operational activities as it is within planned budgeting and ramps up over a five(5) year period.  
  • The Stewardship Contribution plan was discussed extensively by the Parish Finance Council, and was unanimously approved by the Council.
  • The Stewardship Contribution was presented to the Padua Advisory Board in 2016 with the full support of the pastor.  The stewardship contributions for both the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years have already been paid.
  • Statements have been made that funds assessed from Padua Academy are supporting St. Anthony of Padua Grade School.  These statements are false.  The annual stewardship contribution from Padua Academy is utilized by the parish for general operating purposes. St. Anthony’s Italian Festival is the primary fundraiser offering support for the Parish Grade School. The Diocese of Wilmington mandates that a parish subsidize the operating cost of an elementary school it operates between 15% and 35% of the school budget. The parish subsidizes 26% of the grade school operating costs, primarily via revenue raised by the Italian Festival.
  • Statements have been made that St. Anthony of Padua grade school is failing and enrollment is declining. These statements are false. The grade school is vibrant and growing. Enrollment this academic year rose 5% vs. last year — one of only two diocesan elementary schools that realized an increase in enrollment. The school has made significant strategic investments in the facility and faculty, including the conversion of the school library to a state-of-the-art digital library, and the initiation of a fully-integrated special education program. St. Anthony’s is the only diocesan elementary school to offer these innovative features.
  • The facts presented above are offered to provide a comprehensive explanation of the financial relationship between Padua Academy and St. Anthony’s parish in recent years.