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Our Schools: Trio of sources fund Catholic education

I.C.S. benefits from, is benefit to the community

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:00 a.m. CDT

This is the third in a week-long series of columns written by Morris school leaders discussing their schools’ finances. In the coming months, similar series of articles will focus on other topics pertinent to local education.

For more than 120 years, Immaculate Conception School has served the Morris area by providing an excellent Catholic elementary school education for its students. This would not be possible without the support of Immaculate Conception Parish, the families enrolled in the school and the community at large.

The community owes a great deal of gratitude to the Sisters of the Holy Cross who served the school so faithfully for many years. The number of sisters serving the school began to diminish in the 1960s. By the early 1980s, the school was staffed solely by lay teachers. Without the foundation of excellence laid by the sisters, the school would not be flourishing in the 21st Century.

As an employer, I.C.S. is a great benefit to the area economy. The school has an annual budget of slightly more than $1 million. It currently employs a full-time principal, 11 full-time teachers, four part-time teachers, four part-time teacher’s aides, two part-time members of the office staff, and four part-time members of the maintenance staff.

The salaries for members of the teaching staff are set by the Diocesan School Board, subject to the approval of the bishop. The current salary for a beginning teacher in the Diocese of Joliet is $27,613. All teachers are required to have a college degree and hold a state teaching certification.

Full-time teachers are covered by an excellent health insurance package that includes dental and eye care, as well as disability and life insurance. The school pays its share of Social Security for its employees. In addition to Social Security coverage, full-time employees receive the benefits of the Diocesan Pension Package.

The school’s income is generated from three basic sources: donations, tuition, and development and fundraising. The school’s biggest donor is Immaculate Conception Parish. The parish investment provides about 25 percent of the school’s annual budget. This amounts to about $1,200 per student. In addition, the parish shares its building and grounds with the school.

The school is also the beneficiary of many generous donations made by individual benefactors. Each year, the school publishes a wish list of items that friends of the school generously fund. The school and its families also benefit from many donations that are made to provide tuition scholarships for qualifying families.

Tuition and fees paid by families provide about 50 percent of the school’s income. The basic tuition fee for a full-time student from a parish family is $3,205. In addition to the tuition fee, there is a $175 book and technology fee. Most families pay their tuition and fees over an 11-month period beginning in July and ending in May.

In addition to local scholarships provided in memory of Jim Feeney and Tom Gabel, the Catholic Education Foundation of the Diocese provides scholarships to qualifying families. A fund administered by the Community Foundation of Grundy County also provides funding for scholarships.

Development and fundraising efforts provide the remainder of the necessary annual income.  The school’s Endowment Fund earns about $36,000 in interest each year. Fundraising done by the Parents Club and the Sports Committee provides a large source of income.

The fundraisers not only generate revenue, but also build community. The I.C.S. sports program is staffed by volunteers and students are not charged participation fees. Various groups, such as the Student Council, hold small fundraisers in order to provide the necessary means to conduct their service projects.

I.C.S. does its very best to purchase goods and services locally. In addition to purchases made locally, the Catholic schools of the Diocese do quite a bit of cooperative purchasing. The school strives to have an adequate cash flow and to pay all of its bills on time. Both the parish and school have been very successful in accomplishing this.

The school is one of several ministries of Immaculate Conception Parish. There is a great deal of sharing of parish facilities that takes place among these ministries as they work to support each other. The school is fully committed to being a vital part of the parish and to helping ensure the excellence of all the parish services. 

I.C.S. has benefited from the cooperation and generosity of the area public schools and is very grateful for their spirit of cooperation. In turn, the school strives to share its facilities with other groups in the community and to always make them feel welcome at I.C.S.

Catholic education at I.C.S. is made possible by the generosity of many groups, families and individuals. The school community is very grateful for all the support that it receives. It is fully committed to being the best possible steward of its many blessings and to sharing these blessings with others.

For further information about Immaculate Conception School, visit the I.C.S. website at ics1.org.

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