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RICHFIELD, Minn. -- In this day and age, private schools often have to think outside of the box to make ends meet.

Enter the possibility of selling school land for retail space and you have the situation currently unfolding at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.

"The whole idea is the sustainability of the school, to sustain it down the road," AHA President Tom Shipley said of the idea Friday night.

The Board of Trustees at the Academy of Holy Angels is considering selling 1.7 acres of the schools front lawn for a small retail space area called the Mission Shops.

One big reason is the school is $10 million in debt and the developer is willing to pay close to $6 million for the land.

"This plan will not solve all of our problems, but it will give us a jump start and that is something we need to have happen," Shipley said.

But the idea of transforming the idyllic lawn is, to many alumni, tantamount to paving paradise.

"It looks like it would be intrusive to the front yard," AHA graduate Emily Koenig said.

Since Wednesday, more than 600 people have signed a petition on change.org demanding the Holy Angels Board not go through with this sale.

Emily Koenig is one of them and one who also understands the alumni and supporters better come up with a money maker to sway the board's thinking.

"Let's just try some other alternatives," Koenig said.

She says the ideas are pouring in but the clock is ticking because the board said it plans to vote on this before the end of the year.

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