The Archdiocese of Newark said Thursday that it is closing a number of its schools in Bergen, Essex and Union counties -- and consolidating them into others -- at the end of the current school year.
Factors considered in the closings included "declining enrollment numbers and increasing and unsustainable dependence on archdiocesan funding over time," the archdiocese said. "Consideration also was given to geographic locations and proximity to nearby matched archdiocesan schools that will accommodate new students."
The schools being closed are:
- Academy of St. Therese of Lisieux, Cresskill
- St. Anne School, Fair Lawn
- Trinity Academy, Caldwell
- Good Shepherd Academy, Irvington
- Our Lady Help of Christians School, East Orange
- St. James the Apostle School, Springfield
- The Academy of Our Lady of Peace, New Providence
- Holy Spirit School, Union
- St. Genevieve School, Elizabeth
Cristo Rey Newark High School, a member of the Cristo Rey Network®, also will close due to a "lack of operational viability," the archdiocese said Thursday afternoon.
"All ten schools will remain active through the end of the school year, with lessons and assignments continuing to be administered via distance learning platforms in compliance with the statewide mandate," the diocese said in a statement.
The announcement "follows similar decisions by other Catholic dioceses and religious orders in the region," the statement said.
"Nationwide, changing demographics and increased competition from public and secular private schools have contributed to ongoing declines in Catholic school enrollment, decreasing the long-term viability of many school communities," it said.
Although the process began before the COVID-19 crisis, the archdiocese said the crisis "has further weakened the economic position of the schools and other ministries."
Because of restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic, the archdiocese said, it was "unable to pursue its original plan of in-person notification to faculty and staff."
Teleconferences continued through the day Thursday, right up until the public announcement was made at 4:30 p.m.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, expressed his regrets in a heartfelt letter.
He acknowledged "the pain experienced by the students and their families, teachers, staff, administrators, pastors, and parishioners, and all who are affected by these difficult decisions."
He also said officials are "are committed to placing these students into nearby archdiocesan schools, all of which are fully prepared to welcome them, accommodate them, and provide them with a continuing, outstanding Catholic education.
“This is a crucial time for the sustainability and success of our Catholic schools. They continue to be a priority for the Archdiocese of Newark," the cardinal added. "However, the Archdiocese could not ignore the dual threats of declining enrollment and rapidly increased subsidies that were necessary to sustain every school.”
“We recognize that this is an incredibly sad time for our school communities, especially during this pandemic crisis,” said Barbara Dolan, the archdiocese's acting schools superintendent. “Every effort will be made to find a Catholic school for those families interested in continuing to provide a Catholic education for their children in the next academic year.
“By consolidating into fewer schools, we make each school stronger and more viable, and help ensure that our mission will be sustained,” Dolan added.
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