The Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis announced today that two Catholic grade schools, one in Minneapolis and one in Saint Paul, will close at the end of the current academic year.
The Minneapolis school is Saint Elizabeth Seton School in North Minneapolis. The St. Paul school is Trinity Catholic School on the East Side.
The decisions were made by the boards of trustees of the two schools and accepted by the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Most Rev. John C. Nienstedt.
Dwindling enrollment and heavy financial losses prompted the closings, according to Catholic Schools Superintendent Marty Frauenheim. Shifting population and household income trends in the schools' communities were contributing factors.
"St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School, with an enrollment of 100 students has served the families of the outer North Side of Minneapolis. Trinity Catholic School, with an enrollment of 103 students has served families on the East Side of Saint Paul since 1882." Frauenheim explained. "The closing of these two schools is sad for all of us. We are most grateful for all the young lives they have touched over the years."
The closings mean about 23 teachers, four administrators and principals and six ancillary school workers will be laid off at the end of the school year. Frauenheim said all of these employees will be given opportunities to apply for new openings in the Twin Cities wide Catholic school system.
After the closings, the Archdiocese will have a total of 101 schools including their elementary schools, middle schools and 14 high schools. Frauenheim pointed out that many of these schools are operating with enrollment levels at or near capacity. StarTribune
A Catholic school that has served families on St. Paul's East Side for more than 125 years will close at the end of the school year, the archdiocese announced Monday.
Enrollment declines and financial losses at Trinity Catholic School "overwhelmed any possible viability or sustainability for the future of the school," said Deacon Mick Humbert, canonical administrator at Trinity.
Also closing will be St. Elizabeth Seton School in North Minneapolis, which serves about 100 students in grades K-8, church officials said.
Trinity, at 835 E. Fifth St., is down to about 100 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, Humbert said — several dozen fewer than it had five years ago.
And the school this year is running its first sizable deficit, he said: about $80,000, or 8 percent of its budget.
Seventy-two students already had registered for next year, Humbert said, and that number likely would have grown. But the school's governing board was afraid that, even if it could keep the school open, it wouldn't be able to keep it going long term, Humbert said.
The board made the decision Friday, Humbert said, and Archbishop John Nien-stedt approved it over the weekend. Letters were mailed to families on Saturday, he said, and the staff was notified Monday morning.
Urban Catholic schools have been hit in recent years by a decline in the school-age population and the movement of wealthy Catholics to the suburbs, prompting the need for increased aid for lower income families in the city.
About two-thirds of Trinity students were receiving assistance to pay the $2,354 annual tuition, Humbert said.
In 2005, another East Side elementary, Blessed Sacrament, closed after 88 years, having watched its enrollment drop to less than a quarter of what it was in the 1970s. St. Columba's elementary school in the Midway area closed the year before that.
Two years ago, St. Agnes High School in the Frogtown neighborhood was on the brink of closure, but the school community rallied to raise money and sign up students, and the school was saved.
That's not likely to happen for Trinity in this troubled economy, said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"The benefactors just aren't there that were there before," he said.
Humbert said the two situations are "comparing apples and oranges," starting with the fact that St. Agnes could draw on alumni attachment to a high school, whereas Trinity is an elementary and middle school.
The closings leave the archdiocese with 101 schools, most of which are in good shape, McGrath said. He said he couldn't say there aren't others in enrollment and financial trouble, but "these were the two most pressing ones."
Trinity Principal Sandy Krekeler declined to talk about the closing Monday and declined to make staff available, saying people were still processing the news.
Trinity was formed in 1992 when St. Casimir's and St. Patrick's schools joined Sacred Heart, a school that dates to 1882. Pioneer Press