In the days following the announcement that a long-time Salina school is closing many have asked what it would take to keep it open.
Citing among other things declining enrollment, litigation, and what it termed as ” negatively biased and misleading portrayals by some media outlets”, last week St. John’s Military School announced it will close its doors at the end of this current 2018-19 academic school year.
In a letter sent to supporters and staff, the school’s board of directors said they have been asked multiple times “what is the magic number to save the school?”
The board says say to keep SJMS open in its current form, $20 million would need to be raised in a very short period of time. This money would provide funds to address necessary capital improvements and transformation over the next 3-5 years. These funds would include approximately $3,000,000 for capital improvements, $12,000,000 to cover operational shortfalls during the transformation period, and $5,000,000 to rebuild an endowment and provide scholarships for future students.
Additionally, after enrollment reaches a level that would sustain the school operationally, another $25,000,000 for capital improvements (i.e. new barracks, new academic wing) would be required to keep the school on pace with other private education facilities.
The call to action is clear: with the objective of keeping the school viable and transforming it for sustained operations, $6,000,000 of the $20,000,000 must be raised almost immediately in order for the Board of Trustees to consider future options for the school. The remaining $14,000,000 must be accumulated over the next 3 years; this effort must include a clear path on how the additional funds will be accumulated (i.e. pledges) as well.
The board says they are committed to seeing that the doors on the north end of Santa Fe Avenue once again open and “have a positive impact on the lives of young people”, whether in its current school model or in an evolved, more modern model.
St. John’s Military School has been open in Salina since 1888. In recent years the school has been involved in several lawsuits filed by former cadets, including some who claimed the school’s practice of giving higher ranking cadets the power to discipline younger ones encourages physical and mental abuse.
Full text of St. John’s Military School Letter: