Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Trinity Academy in Shenandoah to Close at End of School Year

Late last week, parents with students that attend Trinity Academy in Shenandoah learned that the school would close at the end of this school year.
On Friday, the Diocese of Allentown announced and informed parents that due to declining enrollment, the Catholic School located on West Cherry Street would close.

The Diocese reports that enrollment in Catholic Schools in the region has declined by more than 30 percent in the last five years, and by nearly 70 percent since 2000.

In addition to declining enrollment, another challenge in the region is the diminishing ability of local parishes to pay the cost of operating local or regional elementary schools.

The six parishes that operate Trinity Academy are no longer able to fund its operation. 

Enrollment at the school has been on a steady downward trend. Five years ago there were 209 students, today there are 109, and only 84 are registered for next academic year.

Operating deficits at the school have grown each year, reaching $300,000 this year, and the school has exhausted its savings covering the losses.

The ability of the sponsoring parishes to contribute financially to the school has continued to decline, particularly in the past year due to lower weekly collections during the pandemic.

Parents were told of the enrollment and financial problems in a letter from the parishes in March. “The continued operation of the school, without a financially viable plan, could threaten the financial stability of our parishes,” the letter said.

“We explored many options to keep this school operating, but unfortunately there is no fiscally viable option,” said Dr. Brooke Tesché, Chancellor of Catholic Education.

“I recognize this is difficult for our students, parents, teachers and staff,” she said. “We hope that the two nearest Catholic schools in our diocese, Saint Jerome

Regional School in Tamaqua, and Assumption BVM School in Pottsville, can become a new home to these families.”

Tesché said parents who want their children to continue in Catholic school will receive an incentive in the form of a tuition continuation grant that can be utilized in another school in the Diocese of Allentown.

Elementary schools are operated by their sponsoring parishes, and not by the Diocese. The Diocese provided the parishes with the support and the evaluation tools they needed to determine the school’s future. After thorough study of the school’s viability, the pastors recommended the closure, it was endorsed by the diocesan Council of Priests and the diocesan Board of Education, and Bishop Schlert accepted the recommendation. The last day of school at Trinity Academy will be June 10, 2021.

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