Declining enrollment, costly fire code upgrades force closure of Cranston school

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CRANSTON— Due to declining enrollment and required costly fire code upgrades, after years of discussion and study relative to maintaining a school, St. Matthew Parish has received approval to close its school at the end of this academic year.

Every effort will be made to place students at other area Catholic schools. Teachers and staff will be provided priority hiring status at other Catholic schools in the state.

An open house attended by other area Catholic schools will be held at St. Matthew on May 4. Students whose families are parishioners of St. Matthew will receive tuition assistance should they enroll in another Catholic school.

The steady decline in enrollment from a high of 299 in 1996 to 119 anticipated for next year has put great financial burdens on the parish, which has provided nearly $500,000 in subsidies to the support of St. Matthew School during the last two years.

The parish can no longer afford the expense of operating the school nor the costly fire code upgrades.

News of the closure was shared with faculty and parents on April 15. Parishioners were informed at Masses the following weekend.

“Unfortunately our school only has 122 students enrolled for the current school year, a significant decline from the 250 students enrolled ten years ago,” Father James R. Collins and parish trustees wrote in their request to close the parish school.

“Despite our best attempts to increase enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year, we have concluded that our efforts will not come to fruition. After much prayer, consultation with our trustees and school board, and a thorough review of our finances, it is with a heavy heart that I respectfully request the closure

of St. Matthew School...”

The Sisters of Mercy established the school in 1952. Today, St. Matthew’s is, as Father Collins stated in his letter, “run by a principal, faculty and staff whose dedication and professionalism has made me proud to be pastor of this fine establishment.”

The Diocesan Office of Human Resources will assist faculty and staff affected by the school closing with career assistance resources such as resume review and tips on how to prepare for an interview.

Teachers impacted by the closure will be provided priority hiring status at other Catholic schools throughout the state.