Laura Keener, Editor.
Bishop Roger Foys doesn’t want financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic to dissuade parents from choosing a Catholic school education for their children this fall. In his Friday briefing to priests, April 24, Bishop Foys said that, for the upcoming fiscal year July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021, salaries will be frozen for all priests, teachers and employees and that all schools — high schools and elementary — will freeze tuition and fees. The decision was made in collaboration with the consultors, deans and a team of Curia staff members.
“In these difficult times we cannot expect our parents to bear this heavy burden,” Bishop Foys said in his briefing to priests. “I realize that this will impact budgets but the need to assist our parents is paramount.”
Principals were made aware of the decision in a letter Monday, April 27.
“It’s apparent that a lot of people are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, not just from the illness itself but also from the ramifications of the pandemic,” Bishop Foys said in an interview with the Messenger, April 27. “In many cases that means their job — their income. I think that we have to be sensitive to that. Many people already sacrifice a great deal to send their children to Catholic schools and if there is anything we can do to help we, need to do that, especially at this time.”
Bishop Foys acknowledged that some parishes and schools might already be operating on a tight budget and that freezing tuition and fees will affect budgets. The salary freeze, he said, will help offset the freeze on income. And, he said, as government leaders grapple with the economic downturn from the pandemic there might still be financial assistance available to schools from the government.
“We are also freezing salaries for all priests and all diocesan employees so that should be of some help,” he said. “We don’t know yet what kind of stimulus packages will be available for schools. We are hoping there will be some kind of relief for parents who choose a Catholic education for their children,” referencing an April 26 article from Crux, that detailed a recent conference call with President Donald Trump and Catholic school educators and Catholic leaders. Crux is an online news source that focuses on matters concerning the Vatican and the Catholic Church.
Parents whose incomes have been negatively impacted during the pandemic are encouraged to not give in to despair or to allow current financial stress to pressure them into quietly transitioning their children from Catholic schools. Bishop Foys said that the diocese already provides high schools with secondary school funds that are used exclusively for tuition assistance and that many of the high schools have their own tuition assistance scholarships and funds.
“Talk to your high school principal, or talk to your pastor if its elementary school, to see if there is anything we can do to help,” Bishop Foys said. “Anything we can do in that way, we will do. I don’t want any parents to think that they can’t send their children to Catholic schools because of tuition.”