An East Toledo Catholic elementary school will close permanently at the end of the academic year because of financial difficulties, the Diocese of Toledo said yesterday.
Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair wrote to parishioners and students' families at Holy Rosary-St. Stephen United School about the closure in a letter dated Monday.
"Both demographically and financially, things are not the same as they once were for your parishes," the bishop wrote. "In my judgment, the case has been made that Holy Rosary and Saint Stephen Parishes are no longer able to support and sustain even a united school."
Enrollment has declined since 2000, when 266 children were enrolled in the two separate schools: prekindergarten through third grade at Holy Rosary on York Street, and fourth through eighth grades at St. Stephen's on Consaul Street.
The diocese combined the schools in 2001 to combat some rising expenses, said Jack Altenburger, diocese superintendent of schools. "Enrollment at that time started taking a steep dip," Mr. Altenburger said. "It just got to the point where the parish couldn't afford to keep it going."
This year, about 157 children are enrolled in preschool to eighth-grade classes at the school, which employs about 20 staff members.
Mr. Altenburger said the decision to close the school was made after a school committee began meeting last summer to discuss the school's future operations.
"They got to the point where they couldn't get past financial questions," Mr. Altenburger said.
The bishop repeatedly met with the pastor of the parish, the school's principal, and members of the schools' finance committee during the last few months. The bishop made a final decision this week.
School Principal Joan Clevidence did not return a telephone call yesterday seeking comment.
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