St. Mary Academy
4380 Fruitville Road
Sarasota FL 34232-1623
The mission of the St. Mary Academy - St. Mary Academy develops a strong foundation of faith, values and knowledge for students with special learning needs aspiring to challenge our students to achieve their individual potential.
CEO/Executive Director Mrs. Rebecca Reynolds
Board Chair Mrs. Rebecca Reynolds
Board Chair Affiliation St. Mary Academy Principal
General Info
Organization DBA
St. Mary Academy
Former Names
Dreams Are Free Catholic School At Bishop Nevins Academy
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1946
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Exempt 0
State Registration Exempt 0
Financial Summary
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS LetterView
Impact Statement
1. Our enrollment has more than doubled in the last two years. 
2. According to the Iowa National Test results our students showed great improvement in all grade levels.
3. We have been able to update the technology in our school. Our students have 1:1 Chromebooks
Our objective is to have a school that is filled to capacity. (12 students per grade K-8th) 
Needs Statement

1. Student Scholarship Program; sponsor a special needs child to attend St. Mary Academy for one year, $14,750.00. The children receiving the scholarship are low income or in need of tuition assistance, which is verified by reviewing parent/guardian income through tax documentation.

2. Adopt-A-Class Program; an adoption provides assistance to the teacher of the classroom to purchase additional academic materials to further enhance learning and understanding of subjects. Materials may include manipulatives, technology, books, art materials, music instruments, etc. $300.00.

3. New computer server; we are in need of an updated computer server for increased storage capacity, faster connections and new device connectivity. $4,500.00

4. This year we built a STREAM Lab and are in need of microscopes and other science related items.

Background Statement
Initiated in the fall of 1994 by Sister Marlene Weidenborner, Superintendent of Schools, the Diocese of Venice in Florida, and the vision of Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, a school based program dedicated to students with special learning needs and their families, was implemented in all the schools in the Diocese of Venice. The program was called Dreams Are Free, and offered learning strategies to teachers, students and parents through a combination of medical and educational services at all the schools. When used in the regular classroom, these services benefited all students and strengthened all family structures by forming alliances among students, teachers and parents. Stresses related to school failure which resulted in family instability were lessened. By striving to meet the learning needs of all students in an atmosphere of cultural diversity, promoting awareness of social responsibility was key. The Dreams Are Free program was very successful in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Venice.
In an effort to serve those students who needed additional services in a stable, more nurturing environment with smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction, the Dreams Are Free Catholic School was created.
Bishop John Nevins, broke ground for the Dreams Are Free Catholic School on May 25, 2000. The new facility was still under construction, when the school began accepting students in 2001. This was the first special purpose Catholic school for students with learning disabilities in the Diocese of Venice.
The facility was to be the first domed school in the state of Florida. In the event of a weather emergency the domes have been designated as hurricane proof buildings, withstanding sustained winds of 168 mph. In 2008 the Diocese of Venice and the Red Cross signed an agreement making the domes part of the county hurricane shelter system.
In 2002, the Dreams Are Free Institute began the school year in the new location. The school shares the grounds with the St. Martha Catholic School on the new campus called Bishop Nevins Academy. The Dreams Are Free Catholic School occupies one dome. Currently, the schools physically share the cafeteria and outdoor space and have developed a symbiotic relationship of sharing resources including personnel expertise while working together to provide the best learning environment for all our students.
On August 29, 2016 the school name changed to St. Mary Academy with the hope of instilling pride by having a name that represents our Catholic identity. 
Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Sarasota
FL- Charlotte
FL- Manatee
Areas Served Comments As the only special education school within the Diocese of Venice, our school may serve students within the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Sarasota); however, our current student population resides in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties.
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Education
Secondary Org Type Religion- Related
Tertiary Org Type Education
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

St. Mary faculty participated in an overview presentation of our five-year School Improvement Plan in May 2011 as part of our Florida Catholic Conference accreditation procedure. A summary of the results of a parent and student inventory survey, as well as research concluded by the staff, outlined priority areas of improvement were discussed.

The committee met on three separate occasions during May through August 2011 to collaborate on the action plan goals and the steps necessary to ensure communication, curriculum, organizational needs, and professional development that could be utilized to support these action plan steps.

The entire staff met on August 10, 2011 to review these action plans and discussed and collaborated on necessary changes. With staff consensus, the action plans were completed.

We are preparing for another five year plan in which new goals and objectives will be set. 
Budget $10,175
Category Education, General/Other Special Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years) Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Short Term Success By the end of the school year, students will have improved their independent reading time over the baseline reading from the beginning of the school year.
Long Term Success

The students will independently “read to self” and “read to others” while following the rules to demonstrate a successful, responsible and independent reader for 15 minutes.

Program Success Monitoring

School Structure:

1. The Resource classroom will be refurnished and reorganized while following the guidelines for creating an independent and successful reading environment.

2. Teachers will be re-assigned to create a team with a new paraprofessional who will assist with classroom activities.


1. The staff will create a flyer and teacher presentation for open house regarding the new resource program design.

2. A letter will be sent to parents in our Friday envelope explaining the design

Program Success Examples According to collected data through our Resource teacher, independent student reading time has increased throughout the year for the majority of students.
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Mrs. Rebecca Reynolds
CEO Term Start June 2012
CEO/Executive Director Email

Mrs. Reynolds is a graduate of Framingham State College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. She received her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership with a Catholic focus from Barry University in Miami, Florida. She is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and has lived in Florida for over ten years. She has more than twelve years of experience teaching, with eight of those years in Catholic education. She came to St. Mary Academy from her Assistant Principal position at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota, Florida.

Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Ms. Mary Aksentis July 2010 - June 2012
Dr. Judy Dickinson July 2008 - June 2010
Senior Staff
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 17
Part Time Staff 4
Staff Retention Rate % 90
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 0
Volunteers 120
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes

For the betterment of our students, faculty and staff we do many things with St. Martha Catholic School including a "Buddy System". Our students each have a buddy that they interact with once a quarter on a meaningful project as well as attending Mass with.

We share a campus with St. Martha and the two principals work very well together for the common goal of giving our students the best education possible. 
National Council of Private Schools Association
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
FCC AccreditationFlorida Catholic Conference2012
NCPSA AccreditedNational Council for Private School Accreditation2002
Best Marketing for Catholic SchoolsSarasota Award Program2017
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years 5
Strategic Plan Adopted Sept 2011
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures Yes
Management Comments by Organization St. Mary Academy is a Diocesan School within the Diocese of Venice. We are not associated with a specific parish which makes raising money for the school a challenge. We look to the Catholic Community throughout the Diocese of Venice to support our unique and important school. Our Development Director speaks at service clubs, church groups and parishes to educate potential donors about our school and the work that is being done to help children with special learning needs.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mrs. Rebecca Reynolds
Company Affiliation St. Mary Academy Principal
Board Term July 2017 to June 2020
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Mrs. Gail Leslie Hutchison Retired
Mrs Pamela Landers Nurse
Dr Janice Novello Community Volunteer
Mr. Sean Powers Banking
Mrs. Rebecca Reynolds Principal at Dreams Are Free Catholic School
Ms. Constance Taft Development and Marketing Director
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 7
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 1
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 1
Board Term Limits 3
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 9
Board Meeting Attendance % 94
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Board Conflict of Interest Policy No
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Standing Committees
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Start Month July
Fiscal Year Start Day 01
Fiscal Year Begins 2017
Fiscal Year End Month June
Fiscal Year End Day 30
Fiscal Year Ends 2018
Projected Revenue $962,180.00
Projected Expenses $936,883.00
Organization has Endowment Yes
Endowment Value $391,212.00
Endowment Spending Policy Income Only
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Anticipate Campaign within 5 years? Yes
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Historical Financial Review
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$198,463$124,043$145,278
Investment Income, Net of Losses$4,210$17,069$2,591
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$75,850$114,391$0
Revenue In-Kind$0$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$1,251,924$1,221,517$142,793
Administration Expense$20,621$24,033$47,215
Fundraising Expense$22,363$86,922$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.780.574.12
Program Expense/Total Expenses97%92%75%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue8%36%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$1,646,824$1,663,948$2,174,893
Current Assets$688,271$662,496$626,072
Long-Term Liabilities$1,306,640$1,306,451$1,256,262
Current Liabilities$90,286($182,076)($195,886)
Total Net Assets$249,898$539,573$1,114,517
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountProgram Service Revenue $720,977Tuition $463,365Tuition $527,654
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $198,463Contributions, gifts, grants $124,043Contributions, gifts, grants $145,278
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountFundraising $75,850Fundraising $114,391Registration $56,750
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $50,001 - $75,000
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities7.62----
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets79%79%58%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information taken from financial compilations as nonprofit is exempt from filing Federal 990.
Nonprofit St. Mary Academy
Address 4380 Fruitville Road
Sarasota, FL 34232 1623
Phone 941 366-4010