By Marsha Sills
July 10, 2012
LAFAYETTE — John Paul the Great Academy’s “save our school” campaign ended Thursday with the purchase of its Carmel Avenue campus, the Catholic school’s headmaster said.
A deal to purchase the 40-acre property from the De La Salle Christian Brothers fell through last month, setting off a “save our school” campaign to meet a June 30 deadline to buy the land.
“We had a group of friends of the school who got together and put together a new deal,” said Kevin Roberts, the school’s headmaster.
The school moved to the property last year as part of a lease-purchase agreement with the terms that the school would buy the campus at the end of its one-year lease. The campus includes a nearly 90-year-old, three-story building that faced major renovations last summer.
In the past six weeks, the school raised more than $400,000 from donors around the world to help pay for the campus renovations and cover operating expenses, Roberts said.
“That allowed us to take care of some operational debt we had for the first couple of years,” he said.
“We wouldn’t be here without the support of people from 30 states and 10 countries and, of course, a lot of people from Louisiana and we’re genuinely grateful for their help,” Roberts said.
The school starts the upcoming school year “break-even” financially and with a record enrollment of nearly 200 students, he said.
“As of today, we have 196 students; we’re expecting 205,” Roberts said.
Last year, about 160 students enrolled.
The school opted to participate in the state’s voucher program for some students at low-performing public schools to attend private and parochial schools using taxpayer dollars and opened 64 spots to qualifying students.
Roberts said the school has received more than 32 applications for the spots, but even if those spots are not filled, the school will still break its enrollment record.
The deadline to apply for the vouchers is Friday.
The school has classes in grades Pre-K3 through 12, as well as a home-school program. It opened in 2007 in a former restaurant in Carencro. The school is recognized by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, but is an independent school and not associated with any church parish.
For more information on John Paul the Great Academy, visit http://www.jpgacademy.org.