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Waltham Catholic school will not reopen in the fall

By Jacqueline Tetrault Pilot Staff
Posted: 7/19/2019

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The closure of St. Jude School in Waltham was announced July 11. Pilot file photo

WALTHAM -- St. Jude School in Waltham has announced that it will not reopen for the 2019-2020 academic year due to growing debt and shrinking enrollment.

A letter was sent to members of the school community on July 11 to notify them of the school's closure. The letter was signed by Father Adrian Milik, administrator of St. Jude Parish, and Jane O'Connor, principal of St. Jude School.

"Over the past several months, in collaboration with the Catholic Schools Office for the Archdiocese of Boston, we have reviewed the challenges and opportunities in building a stronger long-term plan for sustaining St. Jude's," Father Milik and Principal O'Connor said in the letter.

They reported that enrollment has declined over the past several years, from 130 students in the 2014-2015 academic year to 80 students projected for the 2019-2020 year.

"With the school's projected enrollment and a growing debt, the parish is not in a position to sustain the school. Furthermore, the archdiocese does not have the funds to subsidize St. Jude's operating budget," Father Milik and Principal O'Connor said.

They acknowledged that "the timing of this issue," in the middle of the summer vacation, "is not ideal," and apologized "for having to deliver this news in the first place."

"We have looked at every possible step to save the school, but it is clear that the parish itself would be put at risk," Father Milik and Principal O'Connor said.

They expressed their own "great sadness," "disappointment," and "loss."

"The strong ties and great commitment that you have made to this school community make this decision very painful. Our focus must now turn to assisting students and their families in transitioning to a new school for the fall," they said.

To this end, they said, they have been working with the Catholic Schools Office to secure places in nearby Catholic schools for students who wish to continue in Catholic education. Employment counseling will be available to St. Jude School faculty and staff, and Catholic schools with open positions will be asked to give them interview priority.

"With this announcement we recognize the loss for our parish and our community. We want to celebrate all that the school has meant to so many families and to recognize the achievements of our students, teachers, staff, and alumni," Father Milik and Principal O'Connor said.

They said they are "committed to assist" parents and guardians "in any ways that may be helpful," adding that Father Milik is available through the rectory office, and Principal O'Connor and school secretary Anne Marie McDonald will be in the school office each weekday from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. during the summer.

"Our goal now is to provide for as smooth a transition as possible for our students, families, teachers, and staff. With God's grace and the strength of our parish community, we will make the most of this difficult situation," Father Milik and Principal O'Connor said.