Catholic schools in Rolling Meadows, Round Lake closing at end of year
Amid declining enrollment and financial shortfalls, St. Colette School in Rolling Meadows will close at the end of the current school year, ending a 60-year run that included being named one of the nation's top schools in 2007, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced today.
And St. Joseph School in Round Lake also will close, the archdiocese said.
They are two of five elementary schools that will be shut down, the archdiocese said in a news release issued late Monday afternoon. The others are St. Maria Goretti School in Schiller Park, St. Louise de Marillac School in La Grange Park and St. Jane de Chantal School in Chicago.
"School closures are difficult and complicated and we realize the impact this has on students, their families and our staff. We are committed to making the transition caused by these closures as seamless as possible," Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said in the release. "The archdiocese will be working with each affected student and employee to assist them in finding places at other Catholic schools."
Rueben Garcia of Palatine was among the St. Colette parents saddened by the archdiocese's decision. Garcia said his fifth-grade son has attended St. Colette since kindergarten and it will be difficult to tell him he'll have to attend school elsewhere in 2020-21.
"To be honest, they could have helped us a little bit more," Garcia said of the archdiocese.
Garcia complimented St. Colette Principal Joseph Quinlan for doing what he could to keep the school going. Quinlan wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to parents that the school had received a commitment from about 65 students in kindergarten through eighth grade for 2020-21, but another 40 to 50 children were needed to stay open.
Rolling Meadows resident Jean Wenzel, a St. Colette parishioner since 1965, has two grandchildren at the parish school in kindergarten and fourth grade. Her three children attended St. Colette.
Wenzel said the school's unsettled status could have deterred parents from enrolling their students there for the next school year. Supporters continue to raise money for the school, she said.
"I think the archdiocese is a business," Wenzel said.
According to the archdiocese, St. Colette has lost 97 students in the last three years and faces a $500,000 deficit this year. Despite "strong efforts," the school does not have sufficient fundraising to cover the deficit, the archdiocese said.
Quinlan declined to comment.
In 2007, St. Colette was one of only about 200 schools nationwide to receive what was then called the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education. The award recognizes academically superior schools and those that made significant progress in closing the achievement gap.
The school had been conducting numerous fundraising and student recruitment efforts in recent months, including a weekly Queen of Hearts raffle.
St. Joseph in Round Lake has lost 70 students in the last four years and faced a $575,000 deficit, the archdiocese said. The school does not have sufficient fundraising to cover the deficit and outside donors have not stepped forward despite strong efforts, according to the archdiocese. The school's website lists current enrollment at 130 students.
Officials at St. Joseph couldn't be reached for comment immediately after Monday's announcement, but the school posted to its Facebook page a message from Rigg.
"I commend the dedicated leaders, faculty and staff at St. Joseph School for their tireless work to foster an academically rigorous and faith-filled community," Rigg wrote. "St. Joseph School has provided a strong education to generations of young men and women, helping them development intellectually, physically and spiritually."
People in the St. Joseph community posted reactions on the Facebook page.
"How sad. All of my children and grandchildren attended St. Joseph school with my youngest grandson in second grade. I so wanted him to also graduate from St. Joseph," Esperanza Gonzalez wrote. "St. Joseph gave my children and grandchildren a good education, faith and the ability to become good people, very educated and giving back to our communities. This is very sad."
"Words can't express the sadness I feel for the teachers, faculty, students and parents!" Tina Gerharz-Nelson wrote. "My children went to St Joe's from preschool to 8th grade! I also spent many hours volunteering for class parties, recess, homework heaven, putting together homework packets, and coaching my son and daughters basketball teams! ... Many lasting friendships were made for myself and my children."