With fewer than 10 students rattling around St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Hillyard, the Rev. Eugene Tracy has decided to temporarily shutter its doors.
“After a lot of consultation, we’ve decided to delay the opening of the school in the fall to assess the financial situation and the stream of students,” Tracy said.
Enrollment had waned at the 100-year-old school in recent years, and school and church officials had already shifted focus away from a traditional parochial program. Plans were in the works for a pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade Montessori program.
After the K-8 class structure was discontinued two years ago, only eight or nine sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students remained in the school, and 12 children were enrolled in a preschool program located in a separate building.
Making those curriculum changes is still expected, Tracy said. But “we need another year or two to develop a structure for the vision.”
Keeping the school running right now isn’t financially feasible, he said. Faculty and staff salaries for those needed to run the school would cost about $215,000, $180,000 of which would need to come from parishioners and community fundraisers, said Tracy, who has overseen other Catholic Diocese of Spokane schools, including St. Charles and All Saints.
Tracy’s decision is supported by Bishop Blase Cupich, according to diocese spokesman Eric Meisfjord. The bishop declined to comment.
Tracy said some parishioners are emotional and some have expressed discontent over the decision.
A few argued that temporarily closing the doors will slow the momentum of the school.
In response, Tracy said, “I don’t think the school has a great amount of momentum to lose.”