New Hope Academy to close at end of school year

The staff will receive a 20 percent pay cut.
& lt;a & gt;By JoANNE VIVIANO & lt;/a & gt;
YOUNGSTOWN -- The board of trustees of the New Hope Academy has announced that the Christian school on the city's South Side will close at the end of this school year.
It will remain open through the last day of classes June 6.
No school officials were commenting on Wednesday, said Jackie Bibo, school spokeswoman. She said more information would be released on Tuesday.
New Hope Academy opened in 1996 in the former St. Patrick School after the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown closed the Oak Hill Avenue building. The non-denominational New Hope has been supported by founders, "partners" who pay portions of student tuitions, donors and other supporters.
Annual tuition is about $1,500. Because the school is religion-based, it does not receive the state funding that the area's community charter schools receive.
Lower enrollments
"Changes in demographic patterns and more recent non-tuition educational options in the community have been reflected in lower enrollments at New Hope," a Wednesday release from the New Hope Academy Foundation said. "As the economy of the scale tipped, financial resources became more limited."
In a letter sent to partners and donors last week, Pastor Bob Quaintance says the Academy was "struggling with a looming budget deficit" projected at $130,000. He asks donors to accelerate payments and increase financial support.
"The Board is making every effort to raise the funds to complete our 2002-2003 school term with grace and dignity," writes Quaintance, acting board president. "We are committed to meeting our obligations to our children and their families as well as to our staff and suppliers. There is certainty that each payroll between now and the end of the term will be difficult to make.
"... We have come to a situation in which even 'bare bones' isn't bare enough."
Salary cuts
Quaintance sent a letter to staff members, asking them to take a 20 percent salary cut, beginning with April 25 paychecks. Benefits would remain unchanged. He says the cut, with accelerated donor contributions, would allow the school to remain open through the end of the year.
"We know you are already making a significant personal sacrifice to work at our school for a salary which is far below your public school counterparts," the letter says. "Please know that only the most dire financial forecast would ever prompt us to ask for an additional sacrifice on your part."