Trying Something New at St. John

Ensuring a funding stream of $750,000 a year to keep St. John Central High School open is a daunting prospect. A group of men and women who graduated from the school have taken it on, however.

A few weeks ago, it was announced St. John Central, in Bellaire, will be closing. Officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville explained the school has become financially unsustainable.

Alumni working to save St. John have no illusions about the mountainous task they have taken on. They estimate it will require about $750,000 a year to keep the school open. In addition, capital expenditures of about $350,000 are needed.

Before you write the St. John effort off as hopeless, consider that $150,000 already has been raised. One woman gave $20,000 on her own.

Clearly, a substantial number of people care deeply about St. John. It is one of those institutions fitting solidly into the “a small school, but there are those who love her” category.

If it can be saved, the school will have a new name: St. John Central Academy. And it will have a new curriculum, emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills. It also will retain theology education — but it will be open to students of all faiths.

Unfortunately, Ohio’s charter school program bans faith-based institutions. St. John would not be eligible under current rules. State legislators ought to make it a priority to explore whether there are other ways to obtain at least some state or federal aid.

It appears the fighting Irish alumni will have to appeal primarily to private donors to find the money needed to repair the building and keep the school open. Here’s hoping they are successful, and not just because they are striving to save a tradition for many people in our area. Their plan also sounds promising because of the plan to revamp the curriculum, and that alone makes it sound appealing.

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