Leaders of the St. Louis Archdiocese are proposing to close two St. Louis Catholic schools because of low enrollment, just weeks after the archdiocese said it didn’t expect more closures this year.
The plan is to move families from Our Lady of Sorrows and St. James the Greater to a new K-8 school at the site of St. Joan of Arc at 5800 Oleatha Avenue, according to the St. Louis Review, the archdiocese’s publication. The consolidated school would begin operating next school year.
Over the past two decades, Our Lady of Sorrows’ enrollment dropped from 541 to 139, St. James’ dropped from 199 to 102, and St. Joan of Arc’s dropped from 465 to 161, according to the Review.
In September, the archdiocese announced that it will close John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Manchester at the end of this school year because of low enrollment.
At that time, Superintendent of Catholic Education Kurt Nelson called it “a very unique situation” and said that he didn’t expect more closures.
Catholic schools in the archdiocese have lost 12,500 students in the past decade, a decline attributed to fewer baptisms and fewer Catholic families. Enrollment is down 4 percent this year from last year.
A few weeks ago, the pastor at St. Peter Catholic School in St. Charles announced he planned to recommend that the archdiocese close his school, to the outcry of some parents.
The consolidated school at St. Joan of Arc’s site would be designed under what the archdiocese calls a “corporate school model,” meaning the school would not be run by the parish, and the archdiocese will play a bigger role in managing it.
The recommendation was presented in meetings to teachers, parents and parishioners Sunday by the Archdiocesan School Oversight Committee at the request of pastors of the South City Deanery.