Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., Bishop of Youngstown, has accepted the recommendation of the Member Board of Lumen Christi Catholic Schools that St. Joseph and Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Austintown close at the end of the current school year.
The member board is composed of the pastors of parishes in Mahoning County which have schools and Diocesan Administrators.
According to a press release issued from the Diocese, declining enrollment is cited as the primary reason for the closure. Over the past several years enrollment has dropped by approximately 25 percent each year, except one year when it remained the same.
St. Joseph School and Immaculate Heart of Mary School merged for the 2009-2010 school year. At that time, enrollment was 324 students. For the 2014-2015 school year, enrollment is less than 100 students and for kindergarten through second grade, only 21 students are enrolled for the 2014-2015 school year. Statistics released by the Diocese state that from St. Joseph Parish, 24 families with a total of 34 students are enrolled and 44 families with a total of 51 students are enrolled from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.
According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, despite marketing, academic and community efforts to reverse the loss of enrollment, the reality is that the school cannot remain financially viable.
Rev. Msgr. Kenneth Miller, pastor of Immaculate Heart Parish, and Rev. Gregory Fedor, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, said that they are ''committed to Catholic education and will continue to support Lumen Christi Catholic Schools.''
Lumen Christi Catholic Schools also includes St. Charles School in Boardman, Holy Family School in Poland, St. Nicholas School in Struthers, St. Christine School in Youngstown, St. Patrick School in Hubbard and the Early Childhood Learning Centers at St. Luke in Boardman, St. Christine and Holy Family.
Dr. Lois Cavucci, President of Lumen Christi Catholic Schools, stated that her office will assist in the transition of the students to other schools. System policy states ''If a Lumen Christi Catholic School closes and the family transitions to another Lumen Christi Catholic School they will be awarded a scholarship of $500 per child up to $1000 per family. Lumen Christi will also honor the lower tuition rate for the upcoming school year. The following year families would then pay the tuition that is set for the school their children are attending.'' Lumen Christi will also work with scheduling shadow days for the students at other Lumen Christi Schools to help with the transition.
A transitional open house will be held for parents to provide information and help them transition their children to another Lumen Christi Catholic School.
For more information contact Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, at 330-744-8451 or Dr. Lois Cavucci, Lumen Christi President, at 330-788-6106.