Two Catholic Schools Closing Due to Low Enrollment and Rising Costs

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic, Catholic Academy, Catholic Schools, Children, Diocese of Brooklyn, Faith, Queens, NY, School

by Katie Vasquez

The morning walk to school for Sharnet Hilton and her daughter, Mia, has become bitter-sweet, because these steps will soon come to an end. 

Mia’s school, Salve Regina Catholic Academy in East New York, has announced they are closing their doors. 

It’s a tough reality for the 7th grader and her mom, who just transferred here from a charter school last year. 

“It can be challenging finding a new environment where you feel safe, where you feel loved, and where you’re learning. The unknown is the hard part of the school closing. and there’s just not another school like this,” said Sharnet Hilton, a parent at Salve Regina Catholic Academy. 

“I’m really going to miss this school,” said Mia Hilton, a 7th grader at Salve Regina Catholic Academy. 

The Diocese of Brooklyn says Salve Regina and another school, St Catherine of Genoa-St. Thérèse of Lisieux in Flatbush, are shutting their doors due to declining enrollment and unsustainable operating costs. 

Right now Salve Regina has 193 students enrolled and if they had kept their doors open, they would’ve had 143 students in September. 

St Catherine of Genoa-St. Thérèse of Lisieux in Flatbush would’ve seen a similar drop- they currently had 151 kids in classrooms, that number would’ve dropped to 122 kids. 

“It’s going to be hard to walk around these hallways knowing that it’s going to be empty, knowing that you’re not going to hear the students’ laughter or their talking,” said Michelle Donato, principal at Salve Regina Catholic Academy. 

The board of trustees at each school made the ultimate decision to close, Salve Regina board of directors chairperson Jorge DeJesus said there were 3 options to stay open: increase enrollment, raise money or increase their tuition by 1500 dollars.

“Just not a realistic number that we can ask our parents to sacrifice even further,” said DeJesus. 

Unfortunately, Salve Regina is the last Catholic school standing in East New York.

“There is now going to be a desert of catholic education and evangelization to young people without the ability to be able to to share the good news of the gospel with young people,” said DeJesus. 

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

“My faith is very important to me, and that’s the reason that I put them in a Catholic school, because it’s important for me that they know of God,” said Xiomara Palencia, a parent at Salve Regina Catholic Academy.

“It’s going to be a real sacrifice. It’s very heartbreaking that, you know, we won’t have them anymore. I cry, I cried. It’s just very sad,” said Sakinah Scott-Pegues, a parent at Salve Regina Catholic Academy.