One down, two to go.

St. Barbara School cleared the first of three benchmarks set by the parish’s pastor last week in order to keep the school open next year.

The Rev. Robert Casey said on March 28 that 50 students had to be registered by April 4, and school families stepped up and met that request.

On Thursday, Casey confirmed that 50 students had been registered for the 2012-13 school year in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We’re on the road … and it’s exciting to see the response of the parents. They’ve just really jumped,” Casey said, in a brief interview at the St. Barbara rectory on Thursday afternoon.

But Casey cautioned that two other benchmarks still need to be met before he can assure that St. Barbara will remain open.

By May 1, a total of 85 students need to be registered in grades K through 8, and another 20 need to be registered in the school’s preschool program. That could prove to be a challenge. The school’s enrollment right now is 76 students, just 56 of those in kindergarten through eighth grade. Enrollment has dropped at St. Barbara by more than 40 percent since 2009.

Casey and school leaders will meet with St. Barbara’s board of specified jurisdiction, a school governance body, which earlier this year created several committees to reinvigorate the school and help bolster its sagging enrollment.

“We’ll be looking at all of this stuff and figuring out where we’re headed from here,” said Casey.

The parish also kicked off its fundraising campaign last weekend, rolling it out at a special parish meeting on March 28 and then extending it to the parish at large during Masses last Sunday.

In addition to the May 1 enrollment benchmark, the parish needs to raise $150,000 for the operation of the school next year. That amount will be matched by a grant of $75,000 from the Chicago Archdiocese.

“Last weekend we … collected all sorts of pledges from people that are being gone through to figure out where we’re at with the pledge process,” Casey said.