Loretto Catholic school to close at end of school year

| May 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Michael Pytleski / The Catholic Spirit

The Academy of Ss. Peter and Paul in Loretto will close at the end of this school year, the pastor and trustees of Ss. Peter and Paul parish announced in a May 13 letter to parishioners and school parents.

“As you know, our school has experienced declining enrollment since 2002,” wrote Father John Gallas and trustees Doug Doboszenski and Shaun Irwin. “This winter we underwent the urgent review process and established a concrete enrollment goal to ensure viability for the future. This spring it became evident that we were likely to miss that goal by a wide margin.”

The preK-8th-grade academy was among those schools included in the archdiocese’s urgent review process announced last October. As a result of this process, school leaders set a final deadline of May 6 to reach a minimum enrollment goal for the 2011-2012 school year of 96 students, according to a statement from the archdiocese. The school was not able to reach the goal, despite a marketing and recruiting campaign, the statement said.

At the deadline, 68 preK-8th-grade students were enrolled for the next school year, according to the archdiocese.

If the school entered the next academic year with its current numbers, it would not be able to pay its bills, the letter said, adding that the parish, which “carried the financial burden of the school for many years,” could not do so any more.

Consequently, the pastor and trustees recommended to Archbishop John Nienstedt that the school close, and he accepted the recommendation.

“This is a heavy loss,” the letter said. “The school means a great deal to so many. In recent years, innumerable efforts have been put forth to strengthen, enlarge and market the school. An endless stream of prayers have risen from our church at Holy Mass, from our Perpetual Adoration chapel and from the homes in this community. But in this case, we did not receive what we were hoping for.”

The Academy began the urgent review process in October with the forming of a local school task force. The local task force engaged in an analysis and review of data related to financial management, academic quality, Catholic identity and advancement (marketing, development), as outlined in the archdiocesan Strategic Plan under the criteria for viable schools, the archdiocesan statement said. The urgent review process included an open meeting with school families and other stakeholders at the school during which the local task force detailed the status of the school as it related to each of the viability criteria.

Ss. Peter and Paul remains committed to the education of its children, the letter to parishioners and school parents said.

The parish will have a meeting for school parents May 19 to connect them with area Catholic schools, which will have representatives in attendance. Representatives from the archdiocese will also be present to answer questions.

The parish will continue to designate a portion of its offertory for the education of its children by using it for tuition vouchers to support parishioners who choose to send their children to Catholic schools, the letter noted.

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