The Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools to Close Four Schools and Unite Two Schools at the End of the 2020/2021 Academic School Year
Chicago – (Jan. 21, 2021) – The Archdiocese of Chicago announced today that four Catholic schools will close and two will consolidate operations at the end of this school year, effective June 30, 2021. The schools being closed are Christ Our Savior School in South Holland, Sacred Heart School in Melrose Park, St. Ann School in Lansing and St. Joseph School in Summit. The archdiocese will help families transition to nearby Catholic schools and work to place teachers and staff in open positions across the archdiocese.
St. Benedict School in Blue Island and St. Walter School on Western Avenue will unite as one school but continue classes at two campuses with the upper grades held at St. Benedict and lower grades held at St. Walter. The two school campuses are approximately a mile apart.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, made the difficult decision to close the schools based on their low and steadily declining enrollment levels and large financial deficits. These four Catholic schools have experienced a combined average of 31 percent decrease in their enrollment in the last four years. The enrollment challenges these schools have faced in recent years have created a combined deficit of about $1.12 million for this school year. The merger of St. Benedict and St. Walter is being done in concert with the Renew My Church discernment involving the associated parishes, which may also be unified later this year.
“School closures are always difficult because we recognize the impact they have on students, their families and our staff,” said Dr. Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools. “The archdiocese will work with each affected student and employee to assist them in finding places at other Catholic schools wherever possible.”
Christ Our Savior School, located in South Holland, has seen a 24 percent decline in enrollment over the past four years, which has created financial strain on the school. As a result of the loss of 41 students, the school faces a $300,000 deficit this year and, despite strong fundraising efforts cannot cover its debt.
Sacred Heart School, located in Melrose Park, has seen a 33 percent decline in enrollment over the last four years that created financial strain on the school. As a result of the loss of 65 students, the school faces a $207,000 deficit this year and, despite strong fundraising efforts cannot cover its debt.
St. Ann School, located in Lansing, has faced a decline in enrollment of 33 percent over the last four years. As a result of the loss of 62 students, the school faces a deficit of $270,000 this school year and despite strong fundraising efforts cannot cover its debt.
St. Joseph School, located in Summit, has seen a 33 percent decrease in enrollment over the past four years, which has created financial strain on the school. As a result of the loss of 60 students in the last four years, the school faces a deficit of $345,000 this year and despite strong fundraising efforts cannot cover its debt.
The unification of St. Walter and St. Benedict, which will be named the St. Walter-St. Benedict School until a permanent name is decided later, will allow the schools to consolidated finances and building space. The upper grades will be able to take advantage of St. Benedict’s gymnasium and science lab, while the St. Walter building has one floor more appropriate for lower grades. Preschool may be offered at both sites, which will be determined at a later date. A principal will be named for the new school and staffs are encouraged to apply to the unified school and will receive special preference over outside applicants.
“The bringing together of these two schools helps stabilize them financially,” Rigg said. “This structure will also give us classroom space to grow.”