Closing SBA

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM

THE SISTERS OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT

INFORMATION SESSION – 10/13

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Manor College Partnership Presentation

FAQ

Academic Questions 

Is there no way to transition the existing students (primarily students in their junior year) to coursework at Manor college so that they can complete their studies there and still maintain a complete transcript? There are many students who would function well at this level and are already taking college prep classes at SBA.  

(UPDATED 10/20/20) We are already working with Manor College to provide an opportunity for our juniors to finish out their Saint Basil Academy senior year credits along with earning college credits. An information session is in the process of being scheduled, and we will provide more details about this as soon as possible. 

How will current Music Academy Students be honored at the end of the year? Will all current music academy students receive recognition and certification when Basils closes.  We think this is the proper way to handle it given the student’s commitment and dedication to the program. 

Yes, we most certainly agree.  Students who have been working toward a Music Academy certificate will indeed receive a Music Academy Certificate at the end of the year.  In addition, we hope to be able to present a Soirée again this coming spring, if not real-life then virtual. 

How will induction into the National Honor Society work for Juniors? The nominations are usually done in the spring semester of junior year, but awarded at the start of senior year.  Will the nominations still take place and the information forwarded to the student’s home or new school? 

Actually, both the NHS nominations and awards take place at the end of the school year, in conjunction with the Honors Convocation.  Only this past year the protocol changed temporarily because of the coronavirus restrictions. Yes, student’s academic accomplishments such as NHS induction will be provided to subsequent schools in the hopes that they consider the eligibility. Parents should ask this question to the transfer school. 

Will current juniors still be eligible for the Diocesan Scholar program even though Basils will be closed next year? 

We will be reaching out to both the Diocesan Scholar Archdiocesan Coordinator and Manor College with the purpose of ensuring current Juniors can apply for Diocesan Scholar as SBA students. 

What would be needed to have the existing students finish their coursework and graduate from SBA? 

Despite the efforts of the Sustainability Campaign that began in June 2019, we simply cannot overcome the Academy’s monumental financial and enrollment challenges. We needed to have met our goals of 60 students in the freshmen class and an endowment of $3-5 million dollars. 

When can we expect an email from the administrators informing us of what to expect for our girls who are there now? 

We will address all questions about the rest of the year at our virtual information meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and continue to do so through weekly updates and/or additional meetings. We are committed to providing the same quality education that we always have, and intend to honor our events and traditions as long as we conform to COVID-19 protocols. 

Will students have prom this year? 

Yes we have all intentions to celebrate all the traditions that we would normally have during a school year. Our only limitations would be COVID-19 related, but we will make plans to work with them so that students can have prom. 

Why was the junior class allowed to order school rings if the announcement was pending? 

When the ring ordering was scheduled, we had no idea of the date of the announcement and were proceeding as if this was a regular year. We have been in touch with the ring company and they will refund any ring order (with only a small deposit held) or transfer the ring order to another school. 

Will the Greece trip still happen? 

Yes. Travel for Teens is committed to running the trip in June 2021 and has additional spots available for any new student who would like to participate. This trip is a carry over from last year when the trip was cancelled due to COVID-19. The trip will be a private Basil TFT trip with TFT chaperones. 

What will happen with sports, clubs and other extracurricular programs? 

We remain fully committed to providing the quality education and activities our students deserve throughout the 2020-2021 school year. As more becomes clear about specific programs, we will keep our students, parents and faculty informed, but as of now, we will continue with the newspaper, drama, and mock trial. 

What will happen to our transcripts/student records? 

We understand our students will need access to records necessary for transferring to other institutions, and will need them in the future. We will be working to ensure these records are made available to students and parents well before we close our doors.  

Will seniors definitely graduate? 

Yes! 

Why can’t you keep the school open? 

It’s no secret our school has long faced a difficult financial picture. For many years, our school has dealt with dwindling enrollment and less revenue through tuition. Last year, we shared with you the harsh financial realities facing our school, that we can no longer sustain ourselves through tuition alone, and we launched a Sustainability Campaign to address these dire financial needs and save our school. This campaign ultimately fell short of its goals, which were vital to bridge the gaps in student tuition and secure our financial footing for the future. We have exhausted every option available to us, and we now know we cannot continue operation of our school beyond this year. 

If the goal for enrollment hadn’t been met in the freshmen class, why were prospective students not all accepted? 

We remained steadfast in our admissions and selection process as we have done every year. The Admissions Committee looks at all student application, including grades and recommendations, to ensure that we are admitting a Basil student and ensure that we are a good fit for the student/family. There were not 15 applications that were rejected. There were fewer.  

 

Admissions/Transferring 

Are there plans for SBA to host virtual open house sessions where other prep schools can participate  so that our girls can have an opportunity to “visit” them? The same question can be asked for parents as well? 

The Academy has already been in communication with the girls’ private schools who are committed to working with our families with any transfers. The schools are open to considering scholarship and financial aid packages that families currently have, and we will continue to advocate to those schools. We will work diligently to help our families find alternatives for a robust Catholic Education and a school that meets the needs of our students. We will have a school fair and invite other schools to the Academy so that students and parents can make informed choices. Families should also contact other schools and set up visits on their own. Our counselors are available to meet with individual students who may need help in deciding on an alternate school. Other schools have stated that they will take seniors. 

High school information day has already been set for Nov. 14 and we will provide details about that event. High schools from the area, including private girls’, archdiocesan, charter and public options, will be in attendance. 

Please remember that our current students will not have any grades until the end of quarter/semester, and we advise no transfers until that time. We suggest you stay with Basils through the end of the year so that your daughters can finish the year with us, and make plans with transfer schools for next year’s admittance. 

We will provide letters of recommendation for our juniors for college applications before they leave at the end of the year 

Why were we not given a warning? Not many schools take transfers as Seniors.
What guidance are you offering the students and parent who will have difficulty placing girls as a Senior? 

The Academy launched its Sustainability Campaign last year in June 2019, and we made it very clear to families, alumnae and the community that our financial situation was dire. During the months following the campaign, we provided monthly communication about the campaign and its efforts, and created a Sustainability Campaign website that was kept updated with financials. Once Covid-19 hit in March, we halted our efforts in asking for donations since many families had lost jobs. We communicated and posted an update to the campaign in June which showed progress with the annual appeal. 

The Academy has already been communicating with other girls’ high schools, and they will be accepting seniors. We will work effortlessly to ensure that all our students are placed in the high school that meets their needs. 

We are currently scheduling a high school information day on Saturday, Nov. 14, where we will invite local girls’ and co-ed high schools to share their information with our families and students. More details to follow.

What will be the process for students to request their transcripts / recommendation(s) to be sent to another high school? From the point of requests until within what can we expect to be that duration? 

The usual protocol is the student applies to her new school and parents sign off with them giving permission for the new school to request records. The new school sends us a request for all records, including official transcript and immunization record. The records are sent as we get closer to the time of leaving SBA.  Before all paperwork is processed, we need to ensure that any financial obligations to the school have been met. 

Why post a workshop for the entrance exam on Oct 7 & post closing on Oct 8th? Why accept freshmen students in Sept & announce closing Oct? 

The Academy continued to try, create and exhaust every recruiting and admissions’ opportunity possible before officially making the closing announcement. 

For prospective students, will you return testing/application fees and other expenses that were part of their application process? 

While we will not be able to accommodate students who hoped to attend Saint Basil Academy next year, their entrance exams will still allow them the opportunity to apply to a number of other Catholic schools in the Philadelphia region. If a student was scheduled to take a test post October 8, all testing fees have been reimbursed. 

 

Property-related 

Why can’t you keep the school open? 

It’s no secret our school has long faced a difficult financial picture. For many years, our school has dealt with dwindling enrollment and less revenue through tuition. Last year, we shared with you the harsh financial realities facing our school, that we can no longer sustain ourselves through tuition alone, and we launched a Sustainability Campaign to address these dire financial needs and save our school. This campaign ultimately fell short of its goals, which were vital to bridge the gaps in student tuition and secure our financial footing for the future. We have exhausted every option available to us, and we now know we cannot continue operation of our school beyond this year. 

Are there no options to sell property surrounding Basil, but not the building itself, to secure enough funds to allow the existing student body to finish out their remaining time at SBA? With the stipulation that no new students will be accepted and that the property will be sold after the final grade graduates? 

Our Saint Basil Academy students and families expect, and deserve, a high-quality education, and our goal is to act responsibly, and in the best interest of our community, before these financial and enrollment strains affect the quality of the education we provide. We have long sought to address the dire financial and enrollment challenges facing our school, and we, sadly, have exhausted every option available to us to try to save it. This year, we will remain focused on a responsible and measured close to our school’s history, while we help families and faculty prepare for their futures. 

What will happen to the building/facilities? 

Right now, it is too early to speculate on certain details, like facilities and grounds, but we will continue to keep our community informed as those details become clearer. 

Have you considered selling the school to someone who will at the very least keep it as a college prep school for girls? 

It breaks our hearts that it has come to this, but we have exhausted every possible solution to save our school. These financial and enrollment challenges are simply too great to overcome. Right now, we remain focused on helping our students close out the year on a high note while helping them plan for their futures. 

Why have & hold so much land / property & then expect money to be handed to them? 

We will be looking closely at our options for the Saint Basil Academy property and, while it’s too soon to say what the future holds, we will be sure to move forward in a way that respects our neighbors and our surrounding community. 

Have alternative financing solutions been explored?  For instance many private colleges that own their property have entered into favorable sale leaseback transactions that have provided needs liquidity while addressing enrollment issues while protecting continuance of school on property for long term.   

We have been working carefully and exhaustively to pursue every possible option to save our school. Moreover, these shortfalls cannot be addressed by any short-term solution. We have come to the realization that we simply cannot sustain ourselves on tuition alone over the long term, and we must act decisively. 

When will the School close its doors? 

We are devoted to providing a high-quality education rooted in our deeply held traditions and values, and we intend to honor this promise throughout the 2020-2021 school year. As we close this last chapter in our school’s history, we will continue to provide—through your tuition and contributions—the high-quality education, programs and activities you have come to expect. 

When the school closes, who owns the real estate and benefits from the sale of the land? 

The Sisters of Saint Basil the Great. 

 

Financial 

Can I get a refund for my fall/spring tuition? 

Yes. We want to approach this difficult moment respectfully and responsibly and make sure students, parents and faculty have appropriate time to plan for their futures. While we fully intend to honor our promise to students and faculty for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, our ability to do so is contingent on the tuition payments, resources and support necessary to continue this work over the next eight months, ensuring a responsible and measured close to Saint Basil’s history. 

Tuition refunds are as follows: 

If a student leaves the Academy for any reason, after 1 month of the start date of the fall semester, the student will forfeit the equivalent of 1 semester of tuition and fees. 

If a student withdraws from the Academy at any time during the 2nd semester (mid-January onward), the student will forfeit the entire year’s tuition and fees. The family will be responsible to make complete payment of all tuition and fees required for the year.

Why would you choose to allow a new freshman class to enter the 20-21 year instead of focusing the funds on securing the completion of the final years for existing 10th & 11th grade students. (Thus allowing them to complete their full four years at SBA with intact transcripts.) 

Yes, the news is heartbreaking to the entire community, and understandably much more so to the junior class. Let me first clarify your statement about a decision-making board. The Academy’s board is a board of advisors, and they have no decision-making authority. They advise the Provincial Council (the Sisters of Saint Basil) on financial matters, but ultimately the Sisters make the final decisions. While it pains us to have had to make this decision, we wanted to be sure that we exhausted every possible option and solution before officially making the announcement. We had to evaluate the impact that falling short of our campaign goals had on our budget; we had to determine the impact that COVID-19 had on our enrollment and finances; we wanted to begin an admissions process to see if we could get ahead of the  limitations that COVID-19 put on our usual process of shadow days and open houses. There is no good time to make the announcement. Not having funds from an incoming class would add to the deficit we already have, and make it impossible to continue with only 3 grades. 

We never gave up hope that we would continue our work at the Academy until we exhausted every opportunity possible. Though COVID-19 upended our typical recruiting and admissions’ process, our Admissions Director designed creative, new solutions to bringing students to Basils to explore our programs. 

Did the Academy secure a PPP loan to help the school through COVID –19? 

Yes and the funds were used to support payroll for all of our teachers and staff. 

Can you provide specific details around the financials? How much of a shortfall exists? 

Last year, we vigorously pursued a Sustainability Campaign to implore families and alumnae to help us try to address our school’s urgent financial and enrollment needs, while there was still time to save our school. Our average yearly shortfall for the past years has been $350,000-$425,000. We are deeply grateful for the support and profound generosity our community has shown, and, while the campaign reflected the goodness and love of our community toward our school, it became clear that the financial challenges are simply too great. We must now look to ensure our students, families and faculty have ample time to appropriately plan for their futures 

Have alternative financing solutions been explored?  For instance, many private colleges that own their property have entered into favorable sale-leaseback transactions that have provided needs liquidity while addressing enrollment issues while protecting continuance of school on property for the long term.  

We have been working carefully and exhaustively to pursue every possible option to save our school. Moreover, these shortfalls cannot be addressed by any short-term solution. We have come to the realization that we simply cannot sustain ourselves on tuition alone over the long term, and we must act decisively. 

What conversation is Basil’s having with other private schools about opening up scholarship opportunities to its transferred student?  Eligibility for scholarships is generally limited to incoming freshmen with renewal in subsequent years based on performance so as transfers there would appear to be no scholarship opportunity without Basil’s intervention.  

The Academy has already been in communication with the girls’ private schools who are committed to working with our families with any transfers. The schools are open to considering scholarship and financial aid packages that families currently have, and we will continue to advocate to those schools. We will work diligently to help our families find alternatives for a robust Catholic Education and a school that meets the needs of our students. 

Was a Co-Ed model ever considered for a solution to enrollment issue?  Aside from McDevitt (which is archdiocese and not truly private) there isn’t a local private boys option at the St Basil’s price point so I would think adding 10-15 boys to each grade level would be an achievable goal as a start to grow a co-Ed model that could save the school.    

No, the Academy has not considered a co-ed model since it would take away from the original mission and tradition of educating young women and would entail financial costsA co-ed model involves many additional factors and costs, for example updates to the building for men’s bathrooms, the cost of co-ed athletic programs, etc. 

Why use 1 million of donated money from 1 individual to create a computer lab when in dire straits?  

The million dollars was not used to create a computer lab. The money was used in the following manner in order to address our financial needs, both at the time of the donation, and planning for the future 

  • 1/3 was used to cover existing expenses/shortfalls for the year 
  • 1/3 was used to update the school plant and specific spaces in the building (the Learning Commons) in order to improve the experience of current students and make the school more attractive to potential incoming students 
  • 1/3 was saved to help fund future shortfalls. 

Clearly the pandemic affected March fundraising-shouldn’t the campaign have been given at least one full year to try and reach its goals?  

While the pandemic played a role in the decision-making, the impact that it had and will have will be ongoing. Even if an announcement hadn’t been made, the requests for donations and fundraising has decreased not only because of loss of jobs, but also because of COVID-19 limitations. All efforts to gather large donors for the $3-5 million endowment had been exhausted. 

What about the Sustainability Campaign? Why wasn’t that successful? Will your return that money? 

Throughout the course of this campaign, our community was profoundly generous and showed great resolve, for which we are still deeply grateful. Still, with the campaign falling short of its goals, and with the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have, sadly, come to the realization that we simply cannot overcome the monumental financial and enrollment challenges facing our school. Despite this heartbreaking decision, we fully intend to continue providing for students the quality education they deserve throughout the 2020-2021 school year. To ensure a responsible and measured close to this school year, we will rely on the tuition payments, contributions and resources still available to us. 

Faculty

What protections are in place to keep the faculty through the school year?  We are expecting the same quality of education until the last day and need to know Basil’s has secured their staff to ensure that. 

Teachers are committed to continue providing a high-quality education as they have always done, and want to support our students throughout the year. Teachers will be held to the same standard as always, with professional development occurring throughout the year and teaching evaluations being performed. The Sisters of Saint Basil are committed to supporting our teachers through the end of the school year.  

What is the plan if there is an early exodus of students before year-end? Can the school still teach our girls out to the end of the school year?   We want to stay as my daughter loves the school so a backtrack on finishing out the year for all grades would be further devastating to us. 

We are anticipating some transferring out of students, but are committed to providing the same quality education to all our students who remain for the year.  

Can you confirm that dialogue is/will be ongoing with faculty and staff to retain them for the duration of the year? 

As part of our promise to close out this year responsibly, and to ensure faculty have ample time to plan for their futures, we plan for faculty employment to end June 30, 2021. Throughout the year, we will continue to work closely with our faculty to help them find alternative choices for their future. As we honor our commitment to students and faculty for the time we have left, we ask you, too, to help us close out this school year responsibly. 

Athletics 

Will my daughter be eligible to play sports at another school if/when she transfers? 

(UPDATED 10/20/20) Yes, however, she will be bound to follow any PIAA regulations for transfer athletes, specifically, the ineligibility to play in districts or states if she has played 2 consecutive years of that sport. Once the school is officially closed, there may be exceptions to the regulations because of school closing. ng. 

Since my 3 girls have attended SBA, we have pushed for recruiting athletes and making sports a big way to get girls into the school. But, we were always shut down. Why wasn’t athletic recruitment ever taken seriously like most other academies? 

We have and will continue to promote our athletes and athletic programs at the Academy. It is against PIAA rules to recruit student-athletes. We are a high school and do not provide athletic monies for athletes to attend our school.  

Alumnae Questions 

Are there were any future plans to allow alums to come back for a final walkthrough? 

Yes. We will take great care to honor the legacy of the Academy and provide opportunities for our alumnae to return. Our limitations right now are with COVID-19 protocols in place to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe. 

 

We believe in encouraging students to develop an appreciation of the aesthetic — the arts, music, and nature – thereby developing their innate and God-given talents.

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