By Emily Drooby and Allyson Escobar
CLINTON HILL — A historic school in Brooklyn will shutter its doors before the upcoming school year, due to a steep decline in enrollment that put the school in dire financial condition.
St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy, which has served Fort Greene/Clinton Hill are since 1910, will close on Aug. 31.
Thomas Chadzutko, the diocese’s superintendent of schools, said that a significant number of families left the academy in July.
“It left us in a very precarious situation that we could not see ourselves getting out of,” Chadzutko told The Tablet.
The school projected a deficit of more than $676,999 for the 2019-2020 school year, but increased that amount to almost $1 million with the sudden drop in enrollment.
“The immediacy of this decision has been prompted by a 30 percent decline in enrollment since the 2018-2019 school year concluded in June,” the school said in a press release.
“This growth of financial debt, combined with the decline in enrollment, has made St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy unsustainable.”
Tuition at St. Francis Xavier for the upcoming school year was slated to be $4,650, while the actual cost for each student was projected to be $13,825.
The school merged with All Saints in June 2018 because of declining enrollment. St. Francis had 122 students in the 2017-2018 academic year.
“With school starting in less than three weeks, it was a very painful decision…it was not an easy one to make, and took much discussion on the part of the members of the academy,” said Chadzutko. “Whenever these decisions are made, it’s really made after a lot of prayer and reflection, knowing that we want to make sure that as an office we can support the parents and childrens’ needs.”
“It comes after many efforts on the part of the diocesan support staff to maintain a financially viable and high quality educational program in this section of Brooklyn,” he added. “We regret that factors beyond our control led to this decision so close to the start of the school year.”
“We are most appreciative of the leadership and efforts of the administration, faculty and staff for all that they have tried to do to sustain St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy. We also recognize the efforts and support of the parents. We understand the impact this decision will have on the students and their families and will assist them in the transition.”
As the announcement was made, one parent noted on Facebook, “This is devastating and sad commentary on the state of religious education today. The Church and the Pope need to invest in our children, their future and in our faith … I cannot believe that this school is closing a couple of weeks before school starts. Where do the children go? Where do the teachers go? And what happens to all the children who transferred to that school when St. Francis Xavier closed? We could have been one of them.”
“So Saint Francis Xavier closed last year and the 2 schools merged and now the new school is closing,” another parent commented. “I feel bad for the kids, and to close just weeks before school starts with no warning is terrible.”
An information night has been scheduled for Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to assist families in enrolling their children to neighboring Catholic academies.
Representatives from several schools, including Queen of the Rosary, Williamsburg; St. Gregory the Great, Flatbush; St. Francis of Assisi, Crown Heights; St. Joseph the Worker, Park Slope; and St. Saviour, Park Slope, will be in attendance to help with new registrations.
“There are some things we learn from sadly every [school] closing experience,” said Chadzutko. “We know that we need to marshal our resources and use what’s best to keep Catholic education in the area.
“We know that we need to marshal our resources and use what’s best to keep Catholic education in every area of the diocese.”