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St. Agnes School to Close, Archdiocese Confirms

Low enrollment has meant the parish has had to significantly subsidize the school in recent years, according to a spokesperson for the archdiocese.

St. Agnes School, the pre-K through 8th grade Catholic school of St. Agnes Parish in Clark, will close its doors for good after this school year. 

The school announced the closure to parents and to the church community over the weekend. St. Agnes was also scheduled to close in 2010, but remained open after an effort from parents to save the school and increase enrollment.

Though the archdiocese has not officially announced the closing, spokesman Jim Goodness confirmed it to Patch on Tuesday. 

"We’ve been looking at the school for a number of years and it was going to close at the end of the 2009-2010 year," Goodness told Patch. "It had then reached a low of 139 students from a high of close to 200, probably around 2003. That number has continued to lower itself. I think there are fewer than 100 students right now in grades K-8."

Goodness says the low enrollment has meant the parish has had to significantly subsidize the school. 

"Over the course of the past five years the school has reached close to two million dollars in direct subsidy," Goodness says. "It has reached a point where it became obvious to everyone that the parish could no longer continue to provide that level of support."

Goodness says while there may be 500 students in the local community and many of them attend religious education at St. Agnes, the majority of families have not elected to send their students to St. Agnes for school.  

To close a school, the parish asks the archdiocese for permission to close.

"We look at factors involved and reasons being cited," says Goodness. "It just became too clear that this was not a school that could continue without a higher subsidy, as well as probably a very large tuition increase. And we know every time we increase tutition, we tend to lose a significant amount of students."

Goodness says the archdiocese has been calling for school choice legislation to pass that would give parents the ability to chose a parochial school like St. Agnes. 

"I think a partnership with the state could be made possible but people in the legislature and elsewhere don’t want any school choice in place," says Goodness.  

Goodness says students currently enrolled at St. Agnes will have opportunities to register at another Catholic school for next year, and that St. Agnes hopes to organize a night for those schools to come talk about their programs with parents. 

"We at the school will be maintaining our rigorous curriculum for the remainder of the year," Principal Heather Schnaars wrote in an email to Patch.  "We plan on continuing to give the best education to all our students."

Pastor Dennis Cohan did not return our calls for comment. 
Viv January 28, 2014 at 06:15 PM
Dear Joe, I am not talking about the parishioner’s working, I’m talking about those SAS parents who are also parishioners who have worked to keep the school open. I am aware of a few parishioners who volunteered their time to work in some the school’s fundraisers, I have meet wonderful parishioners who I am very fond of. If there has been any funding from the parish to help the school, I was not aware of this. I wonder of anyone in the school was? Regardless the school is a done deal, the church will go on, you will still go to your mass with Fr. Cohan. It’s obvious that you like him. I do not. That’s obvious too and I respect your opinion please respect mine. As far a school families going to mass… plenty do go and they also put $ in the basket. A pastor is the foundation of the church along with the school community, when he lies and maliciously calculates the closing of the school and is non supportive in any way shape or form, he will lose those school parishioners… doesn’t matter, people will leave… you have to have that ‘connect’ with the pastor… however, there are other parishes out there who have Pastors who are actively involved in the church as well as the school and will know the children by name. So I’m way off base? Like I said before, because they wear “holy attire’ doesn’t make them holy… all those other holy priest who sinned by child abuse… its between them and God? Talk to the parents of the children those HOLY priest abused. . Seeing things thru a SAS parent, that facts remind that Fr. Cohan did not partake with the school… period. He had no intent to move the school on for another 50 years as he told the school parents in a meeting one day. That was joke… on us! I’m done with this conversation.
joe January 29, 2014 at 07:58 AM
Dear Viv, I know that ill will be praying for you and your children.
StAgnesSchoolRocks February 21, 2014 at 09:20 AM
The teachers and staff don't compare to any other school in the area, public or private! ST AGNES SCHOOL ROCKS!
StAgnesSchoolRocks February 21, 2014 at 09:23 AM
can't wait to hear what the Pope has to say about all this!!! BTW Myers and Cohan, maybe they are related??? same intentions for sure!!! money in their pocket, nice trips and vacations, cars and homes, keep closing those schools for that private jet you want!
bob barrett February 21, 2014 at 02:29 PM
I feel it is inappropriate to include father Cohan with the school closing to Myers with his extravagant expenditures for his personal use. I am sure the Archbishop will not be cooking, cleaning, washing clothes or buying groceries , cutting grass, maintaining the pools , snow removal etc.during his Golden years. How much is this going to cost our parishioners? But I must assume that he has been experiencing the perks for many years.

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