Mundelein Catholic school to close June 30
By KAREN BERKOWITZ firstname.lastname@example.org | @KarenABerkowitz January 9, 2014 1:31PM
Updated: February 17, 2014 6:07AM
The Archdiocese of Chicago has informed parents and faculty at Santa Maria del Popolo School in Mundelein that the school will close June 30 due to low enrollment and an increased reliance on subsidies from the archdiocese.
Archdiocese officials said six are slated to close due to low enrollment, but would not give a complete list. Santa Maria del Popolo and Our Lady of Victory School on Chicago’s Northwest Side are among two notified so far.
“It was strictly a fiscal decision,” said Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, which includes Cook and Lake counties. “Santa Maria del Popolo is a wonderful school, and we are very sorry to see the faculty have to relocate.”
McCaughey said the decision was reached last week and parents and faculty were notified the night of Monday, Jan. 6.
The parish school serves 80 pupils in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Another Catholic parish school in Mundelein, St. Mary of the Annunciation, educates 127 pupils in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
The two parishes and the Transfiguration parish in Wauconda formed the Frassati Catholic Academy, a regional Catholic middle school in Wauconda, in 2010. The partnership between the three parishes and the Frassati Catholic Academy is known as Lake County Consortium of Catholic Schools.
McCaughey said two plans are afoot to smooth the transition for families to new Catholic schools of their choosing, and allow parish families to participate in decisions regarding the future of the school facility.
“Santa Maria del Popolo School is a lovely building, and there are already some planning discussions taking place,” said McCaughey. “We are going to have a parallel planning process to ensure the long term strength of Catholic education in Mundelein.”
“We want to engage the parents of all the consortium schools in a planning process,” said McCaughey. “We need to do more marketing. We need to show the power of the educational program to families.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Strategic Plan for 2013 through 2016 made note of the financial challenges facing parish-based elementary schools, which traditionally have relied on tuition and parish subsidies — up to 20 percent of the school budget — to cover the cost of educating students. The financial stresses of declining enrollment and increased expenses have made many schools more dependent on limited Archdiocesan subsidies, a trend the plan noted is not sustainable.