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|Graduate leaves St. Fred $1.2 million|
St. Frederick High School received $1.2 million from a Catholic school graduate to help attract and retain qualified teachers.
The donation was made Friday at the school.
The Edward F. Dalton and Mary Bergevin families bequeathed approximately $1.2 million to St. Frederick High School for the school to retain and recruit teachers at the only Catholic high school in northeast Louisiana.
The donation will be used to fund a trust and will represent a long-term investment in the school, said St. Frederick principal Jennifer Malone.
Edward Dalton, 94, a former resident of Monroe, died in July. He was a 1930 graduate of St. Matthew's High School, a predecessor of St. Frederick High School.
His family said Dalton was a devout Catholic "who lived a life of service" in Sun City West, Ariz., where he retired after a career with Ashland Oil. Dalton was married to Mary Bergevin. They had no children.
Malone said the endowment marked the beginning of development efforts by the school to shore up financial shortfalls.
The donation by the families was the most significant contribution St. Frederick High School has received since 1960 when Laura Breard Rinehart donated 10 acres to establish a new Catholic high school in memory of her son, Ray Frederick Rinehart Jr.
"The school is eternally grateful to the Daltons for this extraordinary gift," Malone said. "It is in part because of their generosity that we will be able to continue the tradition of Catholic school excellence."
She said the bulk of the money will specifically be used for teacher retention and recruitment. A board of trustees and the principal will determine the uses of the funds based on annual needs.
"The gap between what Catholic school teachers earn and what is paid to public school teachers is significant, about a $15,000 difference in salaries," Malone said. "We often find ourselves challenged with trying to retain and attract the best teachers, given these obstacles."
She said the school also is faced with filling the gap between what it costs to educate a child versus what the school actually charges in tuition. That gap is about $800 per student annually, she said.
"There is no way the families of St. Frederick can solely foot the cost of a Catholic education. Private schools must always have to turn to their greater families (alumni, grandparents and friends) to continue providing a much-valued education," Malone said.
Bishop Michael Duca with the Shreveport Diocese said all great education institutions rely on support that goes beyond the present-day students and families who use the school.
"It comes from alumni, and it comes from people who are interested, in our case, Catholic education," Duca said. "You cannot have a school like this without a larger family of support. That is what we see today…when someone who has benefited from Catholic education remembers and chooses to support that education for the next generation."
"While this is a large amount of money, we also know our task is great," Duca added.
While the school has no specific amount of money to raise annually, it has a goal of closing the gap in teachers' salaries and helping make tuition more affordable to families.
Malone said the Dalton donation is significant, but the school must continue to work toward reducing the burden on families by raising more money.