Prince of Peace Lutheran School in Cedar Crest will shut down in a few months if enrollment doesn’t grow—and soon.
Prince of Peace is a private, faith-based primary school, preschool and daycare for children aged six weeks to eighth grade. Preschool director Christy Burns told The Independent that the school has been open for more than two decades, but this year could be the last.
The kindergarten through eighth grade portion of the school is down to only 15 students and three teachers this semester, and without income from donations or additional students, the school will have to close before the end of next semester.
“We love these kids. We don’t want to have to send them off to new schools in the middle of the year,” Burns said.
The school would have closed at Christmas, but the staff and parents came together in an emergency meeting and found ways to keep it open until at least February. These parents and educators are making significant sacrifices for the love of their school.
Parents of the 15 pupils have given up all tuition discounts—including those parents who also teach at Prince of Peace. “One teacher is paying full tuition to teach her own daughter,” said parent and volunteer Teresa Espindola. “That’s how serious we are about this. We love this school. The principal has given up her salary entirely.”
“A lot of parents bring their kids here to get a little extra one-on-one with the teachers,” Espindola continued. Its student-to-teacher ratio is five to one, contrasted with area public schools, some of which have a 30-to-one ratio.
The three teachers have given up or refunded to the school their bonuses, stipends for extra work, and discounted tuitions.
All three have taken a voluntary pay cut in order to keep the school together for two more months. The principal, Debra Schuetzler, is refunding her salary to the school completely. The members of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church are paying the mortgage on the building.
Espindola started a GoFundMe campaign in an attempt to raise the funds so that the kids can at least finish out the year. To help, visit gofundme.com and search “Prince of Peace School Emergency Fundraiser.” To contact the school directly, call 505-281-6833.
“If, by some miracle, we can get more enrollment, we’d be able to stay open,” Burns said. “We’re hoping for that miracle.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.