Citing low enrollment and continued debt, Cathedral School officials in Springfield announced that the school will close at the conclusion of the current academic year.
“Coming to this decision has been extremely difficult and painful,” said Father Christopher House, pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish. “I have said in each State of the Parish address since becoming pastor in August 2014, that the parish has been in a state of deficit spending since at least 2011. In spite of budget cuts and reduction in staff, this trend has not been broken.”
Father House informed families and parishioners of the decision in a Feb. 13 letter.
Cathedral School opened in 1928 at 815 S. 6th St. Pre-K3 through eighth-grade enrollment for the current school year is 126. A changing demographic in the area is partially the blame for the school having fewer families from which to draw enrollment, which has resulted in serious difficulties in school finances.
“We realize school closures have a difficult impact on families,” said Brandi Borries, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools. “We are committed to working with students, families and faculty through this transition and assist in placing them in another Springfield Catholic school.”
In November 2017, Father House said he discussed the issue of closing the school with Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Msgr. David Hoefler, vicar general and the diocesan finance officer. In addition, Bishop Paprocki and Father House held consultations with the parish pastoral and finance councils, school board and hosted an open meeting with Cathedral parishioners.
“The love for the school was clear,” said Father House. “But what was and continues to remain unclear is any viable way forward given the gravity of the school’s financial situation.”
Parishioner and donor giving have been analyzed to determine if a direction forward was available or if fundraising solutions existed. Once the school’s sustainability and the parish’s capacity for supporting it were examined, it became clear that overcoming yearly budgetary shortfalls would be impossible, Father House concluded.