The Archdiocese of Chicago will close two small South Suburban elementary schools that have struggled to attract students and have run into financial difficulties.
St. Joseph Elementary School in Homewood and St. Louis de Montfort in Oak Lawn will not reopen in September of 2017. St. Joseph enrolled 64 students this year and St. Louis de Montfort enrolled 133, the archdiocese said.
The Archdiocese and school leaders together came to a decision to close the school, said archdiocese spokeswoman Anne R. Maselli.
Calls to the schools were generally referred to the archdiocese, but St. Joseph Principal Dan Fleming did share with WBEZ that the tiny school was beloved.
“We have wonderful children,” he said. “Tremendous faculty. Passionate parents. The school has been here 90 years.”
Parents from St. Louis de Montfort appeared to be taken by surprise by the news. A Facebook post advertised a fundraiser on Tuesday night in conjunction with a local pizza restaurant.
One father commented on Facebook that his daughter had been crying all night and asked if there was a way to fight the closing. But someone using the St. Louis de Montfort account replied that the school was $1 million in debt. “Our decline in enrollment by 68 students signed our death warrant,” according to the reply.
Maselli said the archdiocese is hoping that these will be the only two schools to close this year. Over the past decade, about 40 Catholic elementary and high schools in Cook and Lake county run by the Archdiocese of Chicago have closed, including six last year.
The archdiocese-run schools now serve about 76,000 student, more than 20,000 less than a decade ago.