It was announced last week that a beloved Catholic school in our area would be closing. The first closing in our area of Catholic schools was in the school year 2006 when St. Virgilius closed. Then a few years later, St. Mary Star of the Sea closed as well.
When the other two schools closed, there was not as much social media presence. Now the media and social media are on fire due to the closing of St. Camillus. Many people want to know why they were not aware. Well, if you do not attend the school or are a parishioner there, why would you be made aware? I knew that their enrollment was down and I was hoping they could stay open. Who knows what that building will become.
Other posters on social media want to know why tuition is so much more expensive than when they went in the past. One reason I can think of off the top of my head is when my father and mother went to Catholic elementary school, the majority of the teachers were nuns. So, the stipends you would pay a nun are much less than the salary and benefits of teachers. If you pay for health coverage, you know that premiums have increased significantly in the last few years.
People know that I am a Catholic school advocate (and fought long and hard to keep St.Virgilius open for many years), and have asked me did Catholic schools ever think about lowering the tuition to make them more affordable? I replied, how could they?
St. Camillus has been in the area for many generations. My father graduated from there back in 1960. It is sad that the school can no longer keep its doors opened. But the bottom line is enrollment is low. Enrollment has been on the decline for many years. I noticed the first decline when our local elementary schools went from K-6 to K-8. Many people were willing to place their child in their local elementary school because they did not have to attend JHS 180. This was also true for PS 47. As their school increased in enrollment, St. Virgilius’ declined.
I worry about the future of Catholic schools because I believe in a Catholic education. One can get a good education in many schools, but there is something special about a Catholic education. I truly believe that my siblings and I would not have been cared as well for, if we did not attend St. Francis Prep and St. Francis de Sales after the death of my mother. I can vividly see my sister, Christine’s first-grade teacher when I brought Christine to the first day of first-grade, less than a month after my mother passed away. I asked to speak to Ms. Ramondi and explained our situation. She kindly informed me that she was aware of the situation and that Christine was in good hands. When I asked my friends for quotes on why they also sacrifice to pay the tuition, they explained similar stories.
If you would like to make a difference, think about sponsoring a student through Ventures in Education, which gives scholarships to students in need who would like a Catholic school education.