Holy Name School, a Catholic elementary school in AuSable Forks, will close at the end of this school year in June.
In a letter to parents, Principal Christine Reynolds said the decision was made due to "heavy financial burden and low census." She said when she became principal three years ago, she was told she may only be on the job for one year, but the school was able to keep going.
"After much consideration by the Parish and School Councils and consultation with Bishop (Terry) LaValley, it was decided that this would be in the best interest of the Holy Name Community," Reynolds wrote. "Economic hardship, an overall decrease in the student census of AuSable Valley, and the decline in the number of practicing Catholics have resulted in a continual decrease in enrollment over the past decade."
Reynolds said the school community tried to raise funds and secure grants to keep Holy Name open. The school also had to borrow money from the Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg to meet expenses for the 2012-13 school year, which resulted in "extreme financial burden to our parish families," Reynolds said in the letter.
The news comes as Holy Name School celebrates its 100th year. It was founded in 1913, originally located in a building on Palmer Street. Since 1961 it's been located on Main Street in downtown AuSable Forks, next to the Catholic church of the same name.
The school was first staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph, with enrollment ranging from 20 to 30 students per class. For its first 50 years, it didn't charge tuition.
Current enrollment for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade is 56, Reynolds told the Enterprise. She said those students will enroll elsewhere for the 2013-14 school year.
"They will go to the AuSable Valley School District," Reynolds said. "There's the elementary school in AuSable Forks and Keeseville Elementary School."
Susan Richards, clerk to the town of Jay supervisor, commented in an email, "The decision to put my children in the Holy Name School has been one of the best decisions of my life! Society isn't kind today, but inside those four walls, it was almost heaven. Students care about one another deeply and welcome their differences."
Town Supervisor Randy Douglas, a Holy Name alumnus, called the closure "a major loss to our community.
"As an alumni family of the Holy Name School, my children and I learned the importance of building meaningful relationships with God, family and the community," Douglas said in a prepared statement. "My father, brother, uncle and I all coached the Holy Name Roadrunners basketball program for years, and many friendships were made along the way."
Ten people will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. It will drop the number of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Ogdensburg from 15 to 14.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.