St. Mary Catholic School, which is managed by St. Mary Catholic Parish located in Hillsboro, is scheduled to shut down on Saturday, July 1, the end of the present academic year.
The decision was made by a joint proposal from the parish pastor, the parish council, and the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese, which was accepted by Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati.
Although it has been decided that the school will be closed down, the preschool will continue to operate.
Struggle in Enrollment
According to the Catholic Telegraph, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 51st biggest Catholic diocese in the United States and has a population of approximately 435,000 adherents.
It also boasts the fifth-largest Catholic school system in the country, with nearly 40,000 students enrolled.
The diocese encompasses 19 counties, with 208 canonical parishes grouped into 57 Families of Parishes, and has a total of 113 Catholic primary and secondary schools operating within its jurisdiction.
St. Mary Catholic School is among those schools.
Since the 2000-2001 academic year, St. Mary Catholic School has been offering educational services.
The school was launched with just 12 students enrolled in the first and second grades in the autumn of 2000.
The school underwent a process of gradual expansion, with two grades being added every year until it earned accreditation from the Ohio Catholic School Accrediting Association in 2010.
However, in recent years, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment has become a significant challenge.
Presently, the school has only 17 students, whereas it requires a minimum of 34 students to remain sustainable.
Fr. Michael Paranuik, who is the pastor at St. Mary Parish, has conveyed the news of the school's impending closure to the staff, parishioners, and school families.
In his announcement, he suggested that they should focus on celebrating the school's 23-year-long legacy, the positive impact it has had on the students, and the blessings it has bestowed upon them.
He also assured them that as they close this chapter, another one will open with the guidance of God.
23 Years of Catholic Education
According to Ms. Susan Gibbons, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, the decision to close St. Mary Catholic School is regrettable, and they are disheartened that such a step had to be taken.
The school has been delivering an excellent education imbued with Catholic values to children for more than two decades.
It has also been a valued institution in the small community of rural Highland County, and its closure will affect not only the students and families but also the entire community.
Mr. Benjamen Pence, the principal of St. Mary Catholic School, expressed his gratitude to all the families who supported the school over the years.
He acknowledged that the decision to close the school was distressing, but he wished the best for all the students and staff who were involved.
While St. Mary Catholic School is going to shut down by the end of this academic year, the preschool program will continue to function.
More information regarding the preschool's functioning and other details will be released in the upcoming months.
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