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Who gave the Park School more than $830,000? It’s a secret

The Park School has received the largest donation in its roughly 106-year history, but it’s a secret who the major donor is.

The private school’s Board of Trustees announced on Tuesday that it’s a gift of more than $830,000, and at the request of the donor’s family, will keep the benefactor anonymous.

“This is a game-changer for us,” said Chris Lauricella, head of the school. “We’re subject to market fluctuations,” so this will help provide more financial security, he said.

Carolyn Hoyt Stevens, Park’s director of development, said the previous largest gift to the school was in the $675,000 range.

Stevens added that there isn’t a general range for how much people usually donate to Park, a private school on Harlem Road in Amherst.

She said the latest gift won’t go to any specific project, but will be used as a “safety net” in the reserves, a source of money for the school to count on if it needs it.

“It’s not something Park has had,” Hoyt Stevens said. She declined to say whether the donor lives locally.

Lauricella said the annual budget of Park is about $5 million, and in the last 10 years the school’s Development Office has raised more than $13 million in gifts, partly through different capital campaigns.

One of those campaigns was to fund the construction of a new science center on Park’s 34-acre campus. That building, the Knopp-Hailpern Science Center, has a project cost of about $4 million, Lauricella said.

But the roughly $830,000 donation announced Tuesday isn’t funding the construction of a new building, the head of school said. Lauricella said it marks a way for Park to remain confident and secure financially in the long run. That’s a huge accomplishment, he said.

The latest donation will be invested in the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, he said, and deposited in a separate, restricted bank account.

Park operates as a nonprofit, with a total prekindergarten-to-12th-grade student population of about 300 and an average class size of 15 students. As is the case for other small, private schools, its finances are subject to unusual pressures, Lauricella said. The donor and the person's family understood that, he said.

“It takes a little bit of the burden off,” Lauricella said of the gift. “We’ll dip into and replenish it” if need be, he said, referencing the reserve funds created by the donation.

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