Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Preparatory High School found a simple way to pay back its construction debt: School leaders took their hopes, dreams and needs directly to parents and community members.
Instead of relying mainly on corporate gifts as it had during its first three years, the school — which opened August 2002 — switched to a capital campaign for 2005. The result paid back more than the $1 million of debt the school owes the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix this year, close to its goal of $1.6 million per year until 2010.
The campaign provides funds for renovations and construction of buildings on campus. The school began with a $28 million construction debt to the diocese. The school still owes about $7 million toward its total payback goal of $14.6 million; the remaining debt will be paid over a number of years, according to principal Dave Gonsalves.
"The diocese took a chance with us," Gonsalves said. "Usually, one-third has to be in cash and another third in pledges before they put up the final third. They saw a need for this school in Scottsdale and realized renovation was necessary."
The diocese purchased the campus in 2001 after Tesseract Corp., which operated a private school there, filed for bankruptcy. The diocese paid $17 million for the facilities and 36 acres of land. The campaign is helping retire the construction loan.
Carolyn Rock, Notre Dame’s director of development, said switching to an educational campaign has raised more awareness in the community that the school wants to pay off its debt.
"A core group of committed parents put together a presentation to explain the school’s beginnings and its finances," Rock said. "It was clear and well laid out. Parents were asked to attend and give what they could."
This year the school has 835 students, nearly four times as many as when it opened, meaning more parents to rely on for support.
Cindy Demers, whose daughter, Marissa, will be in the initial graduating class in 2006, is one of the parents who got involved. "What the campaign accomplished is a tribute to the development office, administration and many others," she said.
Kirk Tushaus, past president of the Notre Dame Booster Club, said the school’s newness intrigues people who might not otherwise be involved. "It’s not like it’s a 70-year-old Catholic school," he said. "We are shaping a school that will serve our children and others for many years to come."