Diocese responds to criticism of Catholic school closing

In response to the June 22 let- ter in The Vindicator, we would like to share factual information regarding the closing of St. Joseph and Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Austintown:

During the school year of 2009-2010 there were 256 students enrolled at St. Joseph and Immaculate Heart of Mary School. During the past three years we have watched as enrollment dropped to 93 students registered for the 2014-2015 school year. This is a 64 percent decrease in students.

St. Joseph and Immaculate Heart of Mary closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year with a projected deficit of $141,552.

We encourage our families to visit and enroll at other Catholic schools. Each of the existing schools offers an excellent academic education with a strong foundation in Catholic identity. Working together ensures the viability and presence of Catholic education within the diocese.

There is no easy way to inform parents, teachers or students that a school is closing, and once it is done and you look back and reflect on the what, how and why of the situation, you realize that perhaps it could have been handled in a different manner. It has been past practice to send home with the children letters and announcements from the principal and teachers. Parents are mindful to check their child’s book bag to look for communication.

Research tells us that parents are the first teacher of their children; they are their child’s first educator, thus, the communication regarding the school was sent home as past practice dictates.

Catholic education in the Diocese of Youngstown is valued and appreciated by many. We will continue to provide the best quality Catholic education at our existing schools. We must continue to move forward and hold ourselves accountable for the excellence and rigor, faith and nurturance that have been the hallmark of Catholic education, and which we must now guarantee for future generations (Ozar, 2012). With grace and wisdom, and asking for the Good Lord’s blessing, we shall continue to work to keep Catholic education alive.

Dr. Lois J. Cavucci, Youngstown

Lois Cavucci is president and CEO of Lumen Christi, which is a consortium of Catholic schools in the Mahoning Valley.