Several Catholic schools in the Chicagoland area will close or merge next year as the result of low enrollment and budget deficits in the system, the Archdiocese of Chicago said Wednesday.
"This restructuring is the result of our ongoing efforts to strengthen and support sustainable Catholic schools over the long term," Thomas McGrath, chief operating officer for Catholic Schools, said in a statement. "Although difficult in the immediate term, we know taking these steps will increase access for families and students to excellent Catholic school education, now and in the future."
A total of nine elementary school sites will close through the school "reconfiguration." The school shakeup will impact 1,280 students and over 200 workers, according to the archdiocese.
"We remain as committed as ever to Catholic education, and we believe a more appropriately sized network will enable us to strengthen our system and serve our children more effectively," Cardinal Francis George said in a Wednesday archdiocese's newspaper column. "We will not be able to maintain all schools in their current form, however.
"Even with new scholarships, many of these schools were not able to grow in student numbers," George added. "Supporting many low enrollment schools, particularly those with demographic challenges, spreads our scarce resources very thin and limits our ability to invest dollars in strengthening viable school offerings for our students."
The schools that will close at the end of June 2015 include: St. Peter, 8140 Niles Center Road, Skokie; St. Hyacinth, 3640 West Wolfram St., Chicago; St. Ladislaus, 3330 North Lockwood Ave., Chicago; St. Turibius, 4120 West 57th St., Chicago; St. Rene Goupil, 6340 South New England Ave.; and St. Lawrence O'Toole, 4101 St. Lawrence Ave., Matteson.
According to the archdiocese, the following school actions will take effect July 1, 2015:
St. Dorothy School, at 7740 South Eberhart Avenue, and St. Columbanus School, at 7120 South Calumet Avenue, are partnering to form a new Catholic school on Chicago's south-side to be named the Augustus Tolton Catholic Academy, at 7120 South Calumet Avenue.
In Lake County, Holy Cross School, at 720 Elder Lane in Deerfield, and St. James School, at 140 North Avenue in Highwood, are partnering to merge students and traditions from St. James to Holy Cross.
In Des Plaines, Our Lady of Destiny School, 1880 Ash Street, is partnering with St. Zachary School, 567 West Algonquin Road, to merge students and traditions from Our Lady of Destiny to St. Zachary.
The Nativity Early Childhood Center, at 2740 West 68th Street in Chicago, will continue to serve the Marquette Park neighborhood, with the potential partnership of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Beginning in the fall of 2015, Saint Agatha Catholic Academy, at 3151 West Douglas Boulevard in Chicago, will become an Early Childhood Center with a potential partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Additional programs that may be provided to the children and community of North Lawndale will be released in the coming weeks. Families with primary and upper grade students at Saint Agatha will be actively welcomed at nearby Catholic schools that have the capacity to accept new students in the 2015-2016 school year.