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Archives St. Mary’s School to close at end of the school year

Dec. 11, 2019

CANTON – On Friday, Dec. 6, the families of St. Mary’s School learned the school would close at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

The closure was unanimously recommended by the St. Mary’s Parish Council, Education Council and Finance Council. The recommendation was relayed by Father Bryan D. Stitt, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, to Bishop Terry R. LaValley, who accepted the recommendation. The faculty learned of the decision on Thursday, Dec. 5.

“It is a sad day for me when I am asked to approve the closing of one of our schools,” said Bishop Terry R. LaValley. “St. Mary’s School has served the parish and community very well since its humble beginnings in 1930.”

Generally, closures of Catholic schools have occurred when there has been a pattern of declining enrollment and the inability of the school and community members to raise the funds necessary to operate the school.

Last January, the Councils agreed to certain benchmarks that would need to be met to continue operating the school after this current year.

Despite countless efforts, the school will not meet these benchmarks this year.

Failure to attain the budgeted benchmarks for tuition, enrollment, and fundraising place great hardships on the parish, which is responsible for ensuring the school’s financial obligations are met.

“While it is sad to see the end of the school, we take comfort in knowing that every possible alternative was explored,” said Father Stitt. “We thought we’d have to close last year after the Councils voted to do so, but the school staff and volunteers pulled out all the stops. We increased marketing, including television, mailings, signage, and tabling; we increased initiatives in fundraising, including regional appeals, grant-writing, and the formation of a Parent-Teacher Organization; and we implemented developments to our aftercare program including Brain-Science, crafts, Nature up North, language and music. We tried it all. After 90 years, this is like a death in the family. But with every death we have hope in New Life.”

St. Mary’s parish, including the involved Councils, is working with the diocese and involved stakeholders to aid our school family in this time of transition and to explore future uses for the school facility.

With this being our school’s 90th anniversary, we will have a variety of opportunities for the students, faculty, parents, alumni, parish, and greater community to honor those nine decades of excellence.

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