“Parents, alumni and members of the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church parish are rallying to support Saints Peter and Paul High School after receiving a letter from the Reverend Robert E. Coine last week about the school’s dire financial situation. After 51 years, there is fear that the school could be closed for a lack of funding. According to the letter from Coine, there is a “”serious problem jeopardizing the financial stability of the parish and consequently the future of our high school.”” Coine cited increasing costs and debt, decreasing enrollment and “”out-of-date and inadequate”” teaching facilities as problems with the school. The parish has subsidized the high school about $2.2-million since 2003, Coine wrote in the letter.
“”This in itself reflects the parish administration’s commitment and valiant efforts to continue Catholic secondary education in our parish,”” he wrote. “”For quite some time, the parish administration and the Pastoral and Finance Councils have been struggling with this challenge, recognizing that some action must be taken to safeguard parish interests.”” “”It’s evident we’ll need to make this some kind of rally,”” said Cindy Buniski, a Saints Peter and Paul High School parent. “”Nothing drastic changed in the budget, so we’re not really sure where this is coming from. This is not the only route.””
Parents, alumni, parishioners and other community members have gathered to form a leadership committee that is working to save the high school. The group has created a Web site www.savesspphs.com in an effort to gather support. The leadership committee includes: George and Kim Hatcher, Bill and Anne Warpinski, Matt and Peggy Fitzgerald, Drew and Cindy Buniski and Tom and Maria Mitchell. “”We are trying to make a statement to Reverend Coine in a civil way that we want to be part of the process,”” Buniski said. “”Some people feel a decision has been made without input from the parish and those using the school … We just want to have a civil and positive dialogue.””
Parents have started doing research on other parochial school closings with the hope of finding ways to prevent the same thing from happening here. “”Other schools have closed because of a significant decline in enrollment or a declining population, but we’re not seeing a significant decline in enrollment here and we are in an area where the population is growing,”” Buniski said.
If the school were to close, the nearest Catholic high schools are an hour from Easton, and Talbot County Public Schools would have to absorb more than 125 students. A decision on the school’s future is not expected until at least January. Both the leadership group and Coine asked the community to pray for the parish and the school.