Skip to Main

Manistee Catholic Central Schools Foundation speaks out about impending closure

MANISTEE — The Manistee Catholic Central Schools Foundation talked Wednesday about the news of its closure at the end of this school year.

The foundation had the challenging task of raising $2 million to keep the school open.

They raised $373,000 of that, falling well short of their goal, before the April 8 deadline.


The president of the foundation, Dale Kowalkowski, said he’s not surprised but is disappointed because they hoped it could stay open for another year so they would have time to raise the money.

Kowalkowski said he is taking steps to keep it open by taking it to the Vatican.

He said they are saddened because they put a lot of effort into saving the school but feels like the Diocese of Gaylord wasn’t willing to work with them to find a way to keep the school open.

“We’ve given well over a million, a million and a half to the school for operational costs, tuition assistance to people who couldn’t afford the tuition, and to see the not considered our efforts not considered is frustrating,” said Kowalkowski.


Kowalkowski said there’s a lot of hurt over the decision. Their unwillingness to give them more time is what stings the worst. He said he plans to take it up with Rome.

“We’re going to ask for a review of the financial situation here in Manistee, specifically what happened, what went wrong. And we want an answer [to] why we offered financial relief for a whole year, that we have the funds to run the school and we were turned down. And we want to know why,” said Kowalkowski.

Kowalkowski said the foundation also struggled with the hefty price tag needed to keep the school open.

“There’s some things in the budget that they have in the $2 million that are not at this time necessary. Many of us who have experience in management just didn’t see the need,” said the foundation president.


He says he doesn’t feel like the Diocese of Gaylord understands the community and the passion they have for their school.

“It’s like a death in your family and that hurts to lose that life and vitality in that building,” said Kowalkowski.

The superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Gaylord, Penny Clemens, said it was a difficult decision, given with a heavy heart but a combination of lower enrollment, along with organizational and financial issues contributed to Tuesday’s decision.

“We’ve really worked to really try to make this happen. And unfortunately, time was our enemy in this case. But there were so many people that came together in such a beautiful way for the support of the school. And that’s a beautiful legacy,” said Clemens.


The school currently has 141 students enrolled in K-12th grade. Clemens said they are working to support everyone affected, bringing in counselors from Catholic Human Services.

Clemens also said that nearby catholic schools does have the room to absorb some students.

Local Trending News