SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CNS) — A $28.8 million Federal Emergency Management Administration grant will allow the Diocese of Springfield to rebuild three schools destroyed in a 2011 tornado.
Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell said the grant will allow for the demolition of Cathedral High School, St. Michael’s Academy Middle School and St. Michael Academy Preschool to make way for the reconstruction.
The federal funds will supplement about $40 million in insurance coverage that the diocese received in the fall.
The grant covers about 75 percent of the unfunded costs to replace the schools as determined by FEMA officials. The funds can be used for construction as well as school furnishings.
The June 1, 2011 tornado ravaged the campus on the outskirts of Springfield.
Diocesan officials were uncertain that the school would reopen after the storm, particularly in light of declining enrollment in recent decades.
In announcing receipt of the grant at a March 3 news conference, Bishop McDonnell thanked the Cathedral High School community and other supporters for their patience in undertaking the effort to secure the funding. He said it has been “a long haul” since the tornado.
“It’s taken patience and persistence to reach this happy occasion,” he said.
The grant also covers the cost of removal of hazardous materials and site preparation.
In addition, FEMA will provide funding through a series of smaller grants totaling $9 million to cover expenses related to contents and equipment, site safety, security work and temporary facilities that the schools will need until the new facilities are completed.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Paul Ford, FEMA’s acting regional administrator, all of whom worked with the diocese to broker the agreement, were on hand for the announcement.
Bishop McDonnell and Neal said building an endowment for tuition assistance for future Cathedral students remained the largest challenge facing the school. After the insurance settlement was reached in the fall, Bishop McDonnell challenged Cathedral alumni to pledge an amount equal to one year of Cathedral tuition, $9,300, to establish a $10 million endowment.
Since the tornado, students have been attending classes in the former Memorial School in nearby Wilbraham. The diocese’s lease for the facility runs through June 2015.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or by credit card: