By Emily Drooby
Since 1961, students have walked through the doors of Bishop Kearney High School and into a great Catholic education.
But on August 31, the doors of the Bensonhurst school will shut for good.
The Board of Member’s President, Sister Helen Kearney, said that the all-girls Catholic institution is facing a mountain of problems, including declining enrollment, changing demographics, increased expenses, and reduced income.
Sister Helen calls the decision to close “painful,” but the school’s enrollment numbers tell a harsh story.
During the 2004-2005 school year, over 1,000 students were enrolled at Bishop Kearney. That number dropped to 249 this school year, and projected enrollment for next year was only 227 students.
In a letter to parents, Sister Helen wrote that her religious order the Sisters of Saint Joseph, which sponsors Bishop Kearney, confronted the tough reality and had little choice.
“This has been a very difficult decision, and we understand the painful impact on your lives. To continue to operate with decreased enrollment resulting in ongoing financial duress would not be conducive to a positive educational environment,” Sister Helen’s letter read.
Students are heartbroken over the announcement.
Senior graduation will take place as planned, but there will be no summer school.
A team of coordinators will help students transfer to nearby Catholic schools and work to keep existing scholarships in place.
The end of Bishop Kearney is not an isolated case. Nationwide, Catholic education has been under the pressures of declining enrollment and worsening finances.
According to the National Catholic Education Association, across the country 1,267 catholic schools, both elementary and secondary, have been closed or consolidated since 2009, while only 258 new schools have opened in that time span.