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Published: Tuesday, 2/12/2013

Mary Immaculate to close; board cites financial constraints

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mary Immaculate School in West Toledo is closing at the end of the 2012-13 academic year in June, prompting parents and caregivers of 46 pupils to start looking for other schools with special-needs services.

For 53 years, Mary Immaculate on Secor Road has educated children in grades kindergarten through eighth with learning disabilities. Its original focus on mentally retarded children has been broadened to include other disabilities. No other private Catholic school in the Toledo area has had the same mission.

Amy Allen said the school has been a godsend for her 6-year-old daughter, Bridget, a kindergartner afflicted with Down syndrome. Ms. Allen said it is “a little daunting” to start looking elsewhere, given the remarkable progress she saw in her daughter in the short time she was there.

“The reality is a lot of kids who could excel could get lost in the shuffle,” said Ms. Allen, an assistant professor in the University of Toledo’s department of early childhood, physical, and special education.

The decision, approved by Mary Immaculate board members in January, was financial, school officials said. Enrollment is nearly a third less than what it was a decade ago. Tuition rose steadily from $2,700 to $4,600 per year, while the school’s cost per pupil increased from $5,854 in 2002 to $14,906 in 2012, according to a fact sheet the school posted online.

“The driving piece was obviously finances,” said Sister Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock, Notre Dame Education Ministries chairman. “It was no longer possible for us to operate that school.”

Mary Immaculate’s closure will occur eight years after Ladyfield School, a Catholic elementary school shut down after more than seven decades. Declining enrollment also was cited as the cause of that school’s closing in 2005.

“It’s never easy for the sisters to see a ministry close,” Sisters of Notre Dame spokesman Teri Bockstahler said.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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