Monroe Academy avoids closure

By Travis Fain

Monroe Academy, a private school in Forsyth that has been struggling financially, will stay open after a quick infusion of more than $300,000 from alumni, parents, students and teachers, Head of School Martha Krepps said Friday.

Without the money, the academy would have closed “for good” on Friday, Krepps said in a news release. Now the school has enough to “get us through the year,” she said.

Enrollment at the pre-K through 12th grade school has been on the decline the past 10 years or so, Krepps said. In fact, enrollment fell 42 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to numbers submitted by the school earlier this year.

The school had hoped to merge with another school program, but the deal fell through recently.

“By the time that didn’t happen, our coffers were dry,” Krepps said. “We went into, sort of, a panic mode.”

That led to an emergency meeting Thursday night. Concerned alumni and others packed the school cafeteria and started opening their wallets, Krepps said. She said teachers made donations, members of the junior class pledged the money that was going to pay for the prom, and seniors asked their parents to donate money that would have been used for a senior trip.

“(The students) decided that they just wanted to be the first ones to step up,” Krepps said.

Even with the generosity, the school is not out of the woods, Krepps said. It will probably take another $500,000 to $750,000 in fundraising, plus a small increase in enrollment, to open for the 2009-2010 school year next fall, she said. Tuition varies from $3,800 for pre-K to $7,400 for high school, but the school may reduce those amounts to encourage new enrollment, Krepps said.

Phillip Bell, an academy alumnus who has a son at the school, said it was encouraging to see so many people at Thursday’s meeting.

“Enough people came together to agree that it was important (to stay open),” said Bell, who lives in Barnesville. “Certainly the school needs to reposition itself both financially and in its product to its market place. We’re dealing with difficult economic times.”

Monroe Academy has been in business since 1966, Krepps said. It has a $1.8 million annual budget, more than 1,500 alumni and a current enrollment of about 180 students, she said.

Classes resume Jan. 5, according to the school’s news release.

To contact writer Travis Fain call 744-4213.