Private schools expanding quickly Women's donations, good economy help to fund additions

September 28, 1998|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Buoyed by a strong economy, a new trend in women's philanthropy and a drive to stay educationally strong, area private schools continue to open new buildings and to see capital campaigns meet and even exceed record-high goals.

Seven schools are dedicating new facilities this fall, while several others are mid-project and at least two have buildings on the drawing board.

Enrollment is also booming. Maryland State Department of Education statistics show a 14.5 percent jump in private school enrollment between 1992 and 1997.

"These are wonderful times for independent schools," said Ryland Chapman, headmaster of Glenelg Country School in Howard County. For example:

Maryvale Preparatory School in Brooklandville is opening a science and student center today.

Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson broke ground Friday on an $8 million facility that has drawn three $1 million donations in six months -- an unusual rate of giving by women for women's-only schools.

The Hannah More School in Reisterstown raised $913,000 in a campaign that aimed for $800,000 to expand the technology and middle school programs for youngsters with emotional disabilities. Hannah More cut the ribbon on an addition Sept. 22.

At Baltimore's Gilman School, a $15 million campaign is at $18 million and growing. It will dedicate a $5 million lower school next month.

Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills has raised $20 million in a campaign that aimed for $12 million. This month, Garrison opened its lower school.

McDonogh School in Owings Mills dedicated its $6 million performing arts center earlier this month.

Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville will dedicate its new gymnasium next month.

Jemicy School in Owings Mills has plans to open a two-story tutoring center.

St. Paul's School in Brooklandville is building a $6.6 million athletic center.

Loyola Blakefield in Towson is laying its plans for a capital campaign to finance an athletic center.

Calvert Hall College High School, also in Towson, is planning to rearrange its athletic fields to add parking and a stadium.

School officials are quick to say that the booming stock market of the past few years has helped their attempts to raise money.

PTC Low interest rates and the ability of tax-exempt organizations to borrow at favorable rates has made the climate more attractive, said James T. Kaull, director of business and development services for the National Association of Independent Schools.

Some girls' schools are the beneficiaries of another trend: Women are beginning to give to their schools in greater numbers.

Notre Dame Prep received its first $1 million gift last spring -- followed by two more in quick succession, said the school's development director, Tracey Ford.

"The support to this campaign in six- and seven-figure gifts is dramatically different than eight or nine years ago," said Ford, who has been raising money for the school for 18 years. Ford credits the change to women's increased earnings, their willingness to make pledges as young women, and a sea change that is prompting women to support their alma maters as generously as their husbands support their schools.

"Women now recognize the need to support schools at a level once reserved for men's schools," said G. Peter O'Neill, headmaster of Garrison Forest.

"Of the seven [donors] who have given us $1 million or more, five of them are women," he said.

All these good times don't mean that raising large amounts of money is a snap, particularly for smaller, younger schools.

For Maryvale Prep on Falls Road in Brooklandville, its $3.1 million capital campaign is a stretch. The 53-year-old girls' middle and high school has about 1,400 alumnae and no history of capital campaigns. But after two years of its current effort, the school has raised $1.3 million and has decided to build its first building in more than 30 years.

Maryvale's motivation is similar to that of other private schools. While some are playing catch-up on deferred building and a few are expanding, most are trying to meet the needs of students.

"We have an obligation to make every day in a young person's life worthwhile," said W. Boulton Dixon, head of McDonogh School, which just completed a successful $25 million capital campaign.

"My belief is, and always has been, that 13 years in a young person's life is fleeting and must be filled with as many opportunities as possible. Building buildings and doing other things for these kids is a shared responsibility. They're not a frill or a luxury they are part of an excellent education," he said.

Pub Date: 9/28/98

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