San Miguel School’s Gary Comer Campus in Austin is slated to close at the end of this academic year due to lack of funding.
But representatives from the Catholic school, its partner St. Joseph Services, and the community group Austin Coming Together wants the building to stay open for Austin youth.
Austin Coming Together held its monthly general meeting at the private, faith-based school, located at 819 N. Leamington Ave., on April 26. The organization, along with others concerned with the school’s closing, propose that community stakeholders rent space in the building. Another option is to form a co-op to keep the building’s gym and other resources, including a computer lab, open to the public.
San Miguel Schools Chicago, which has been in the community for 10 years, enrolls underserved students from low-income families in the fifth or sixth-grade who have already fallen behind. The school is open on the weekend as a community center.
Since opening its Gary Comer campus in Austin in 2002, the school has relied on private donations, but those funds alone can no longer financially-sustain the school. As a faith-based school, it’s ineligible for public funds.
The school, he adds, has had a “significant” budget gap over the last few years, and despite efforts to increase funding, the school announced in March it would have to close the campus. The Austin campus is named after Lands End founder Gary Comer, who funded the launch of the campus with an initial $1.2 million grant to San Miguel, which has another school in the Back of the Yards neighborhoods.
The building is owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Lisa Sullivan, executive director of St. Joseph Services, said the school is looking to have one leaser of the building. The building covers 27,000 square feet with a gymnasium, classrooms, office space, and computer lab, among other amenities.
Visit AustinTalks.org for additional coverage of the school’s closing.