Families of St. Helen's students strategize ways to get Catholic school out of major debt

SHS owes Fresno Diocese nearly $600,000

FRESNO, Calif. - A 60-year-old Catholic school in Fresno could close its doors at the end of the school year. Families of St. Helen's School are stunned by the massive debt to the Diocese. Parents brought their questions to the Superintendent Monday night.

Inthone Milly says his son will graduate from St. Helen's next year. But only if class is still in session at the Fresno Catholic school.
"The diocese need money and we have to come up with that money. The past is the past and just to be angry about it is not going to change this situation," said Milly.
Diocese Superintendent Mona Faulkner faced a room full of parents Monday night, telling them St. Helen's owes the diocese nearly $600,000. Principal Jason Garza says he warned parents of the debt last year.
"There was a verbal warning and we somewhat knew what could happen," said Garza.
But it's not just debt. Faulkner says more than $450,000 is needed in reserve so St. Helen's is in the green long term. SHS teacher Denise Colston says she can't imagine the community without St. Helens.
"And I think that's a tragedy. That's a tragedy for us. It's a tragedy for this neighborhood," said Colston.
A neighborhood with just a few months left to raise a little more than $1.1 million.
"Personally I look at it as a challenge. If all these parents are willing to fight, then I'm going to fight with them and for them," said Garza.
"I'm not even flinching about it. We're going to come up with that money. The school is not going to close. We're going to come up with that money," said Milly.


Just over the weekend parents started a Facebook group called "Save St. Helen's School". It currently has more than 300 members. The strategy is to fund raise by reaching out through social media.

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