LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Decisions being made at the State capitol could potentially keep a Lake Charles catholic school open. Early last month the Diocese of Lake Charles announced it was closing Sacred Heart Catholic School because of low enrollment and financial struggles.
The Lake Charles City Council believes the time is off and as is now asking the Diocese to reconsider.
"And what we are asking the Diocese to do is to basically hold off on that decision for the time being," said Marshall Simien, Lake Charles City Council.
In a resolution the council explained Sacred Heart's problems may be solved by House Bill 976. If passed could give students at low performing public schools vouchers to attend private schools. The support couldn't come sooner for Sacred Heart.
"I have to tell you that the Diocese has not communicated with us at all. Our pastor has not met with us at all. This was a unilateral decision void of input of the people of Sacred Heart Parish," said Ken Schexnider, Sacred Heart alumni.
Schexnider told the council they had a three year plan to turn things around at the school.
"The first year of the plan was to raise money to save the school and to finish the year. The second year of the plan was to get the enrollment up and on January 2nd. The Bishop and I agreed we had to have 60 students enrolled by end of March. Yet they pulled the rug out from under us on 8 days after the 1st of March. So we had a plan. We are not just shooting in the dark," explained Schexnider.
Schexnider said they currently have 75 students and already had another 38 signed up on scholarship and that they were continuing to get the other 22 enrolled. He said the school's enrollment capacity is 140 students.
Alumni, students and parents were in the audience holding signs. After 104 years of educating students they are not ready to close the doors.
"If you close the school you close a part of Lake Charles history. You take away a religious foundation that only Sacred Heart can teach us," said Amber Landry, Sacred Heart 7th grader.
The resolution easily passed with no opposition.
"Absolutely thrilled that they supported us and it was a unanimous vote. Hopefully that will make a difference with the Diocese and the people who make the decision," said Linda Papion, Sacred Heart alumni - class of 1976.
We did contact the Diocese of Lake Charles. They said it is too early to respond because they have yet to see the resolution. However, Bishop Provost is expected to make a response in due course.