Donors relieve Tolton debt
COLUMBIA- An announcement from Bishop Shawn McKnight at Father Tolton today revealed the school's $6.2 million-dollar debt will be completely paid off by private donors over a three-year period.
Most of the debt comes from building of the school in 2010, which took approximately $15 million-dollars and a bond of $7-million. Our Lady of the Lourdes Catholic Church also loaned the school about $337 thousand-dollars, which the school will begin to now pay back.
Bishop McKnight said he's observed in a short time of being bishop, the debt of the school has been crippled the school's ability to focus on the items it prioritizes most.
"It’s required quite a bit of operational funds in order to meet the requirements of that bond payment from year to year," McKnight said. "Second, [the debt's affected] the ability to attract quality, good leadership that this school desperately needs. Finally, there are more improvements needed and we need to continue building upon what those generous donors did years ago to get us started.”
Jay Burchfield, President of the Advisory Council, said Tolton has already established itself in Columbia, but establishing debt relief as a priority within it's mission, allows the school to check off all other items on its list.
"It was identified by school leadership as being a high priority when Bishop McKnight came into the diocese not too long ago," Burchfield said. "He asked what the most pressing needs were. This was at the top of the list and he made it part of his daily mission to go figure out a solution to it—and we have it now.”
Bishop McKnight immediately began a "quiet campaign" with donors to bring the debt complication to light. His hope is to satisfy immediate needs, before moving on to some of the dreams the school has had-- whether it involves athletics or the arts.