Two Catholic schools in Baltimore and one in Woodlawn will be shutting down at the end of the school year due to low enrollment and being in states of physical disrepair.
The Baltimore Archdiocese made the announcement on Wednesday night. Two of the institutions are elementary schools – John Paul Regional School in Baltimore County and St. Thomas Aquinas School in Hampden – with 240 students combined. The all-girls Seton Keough High School on S. Caton Avenue, which has just 186 students, will also be shutting down after nearly 30 years.
Seton Keough President Donna Bridickas wrote in a letter that this school year will “be a year of goodbyes.” She’s giving a briefing to any community members today on the details of the prep high school’s closure.
Two Baltimore County Catholic schools, St. Clement Mary Hofbauer in Rosedale St. Michael the Archangel School in Overlea, will also be merging, due to the former needing an estimated $2.5 million in repairs.
Based on the numbers, which come from an 18-month outsourced study, the Archdiocese stands to save a good deal of money by closing the schools. Seton Keough, which has watched enrollment fall by 66 percent since 2006, needs $3.4 million worth of facility improvements, while John Paul and St. Thomas Aquinas need $900,000 and $356,000 worth of work.
“These decisions will allow us to invest dollars in areas that will keep Catholic schools competitive, attractive, and successful – such as facilities, technology, and tuition assistance,” said Chancellor of Catholic Schools James Sellinger in a statement.
Catholic Schools Superintendent Barbara Edmondson said that the Archdiocese sees that the changes are disruptive, but “will be there every step of the way to ensure the needs of affected students, families, and staff members are met.”
With 71 students graduating in spring 2017, 355 will be displaced. The organization said it is personally following up with each family to understand their needs and any issues with enrolling their child in one of other schools. The Archdiocese of Baltimore operates 49 schools in total.
While they made no guarantee to the 102 displaced staff members, the organization said it will try to find them positions at other Baltimore-area Catholic schools or outside the system.
Luckily, the students’ families need not worry about any tuition hikes for next year depending on where they land. The organization has promised to keep their rates intact for at least next year and to retain all promised financial aid through their time in the system.
Ethan McLeod is an associate editor for Baltimore Fishbowl.