St. Matthias Catholic Academy to Close, Board of Trustees Cites Enrollment Decline and Mounting Debt

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Faith, Family, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Lauren Murtha’s hope was her six-year-old son, Jimmy would graduate with a diploma from St. Matthias Catholic Academy, like she did and like her dad did.

But that won’t be the case, St. Matthias will close its doors in June.

“I don’t want to see it closed because, because I like this place,” said Jimmy who’s in kindergarten.

“I need a backup plan. I have to my child needs to go to school, but I don’t want to accept it yet, my son walks out of here with a genuine smile every day,” Lauren said.

Lauren like other parents, students and faculty are heartbroken over the board of trustee’s decision to close the school due to low enrollment and mounting debt.

Over the last 10 years enrollment slipped from 400 students to just over 150 and yearly deficits have reached $300,000.

“There’s been a serious decline in enrollment that has also led to deficits. And it’s become a question of how long is this sustainable,” said principal Keri-Ann Wade-Donohue.

Donohue says she and the rest of the school community are holding out hope.

“Once we get people in the building, they’re very happy with the product that they see. it’s just a matter of getting them here,” she said about the school looking to boost enrollment.

And parents are pitching in, too. They’ve started a GoFundMe to raise $1M.

“We scouted my husband and I community after community school, after school, and Saint Matthias is where we felt at home, and we’ve been here ever since. And we don’t want to see the school close,” said Francisca Pellot who has two students in the school.

But students and families are settling into the idea that they may have a new home come September.

“I was devastated at first, but now I’m kind of still sad, but it’s getting easier to hear,” said seventh grader Giovanni Pellot.

“No matter what the students have to have a place where they feel safe and they can be happy and they can learn. So if this does mean that this is the end, then we’re going to go out with a bang. We’re going to make this the best experience they’ve ever had,” Donohue said.

The superintendent’s office is committed to assisting all families with finding a seat in another local catholic academy for September.