Parents dismayed at SS. Simon & Jude Catholic School closure
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Parents of SS. Simon & Jude Catholic School in Scott were surprised, upset and frustrated with the announcement that their school, which opened in September 1958 on Greentree Road, is being closed.
The Rev. Daniel Maurer, SS. Simon & Jude pastor, said Tuesday that no one should have been surprised.
"The reality has been in place for a while," he said.
The parish and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh contend the school for children in prekindergarten through eighth grade cannot continue without a significant annual endowment.
The parents, who question the accuracy of some expenses and projections, are upset they were not notified sooner of the school's financial plight.
They are frustrated, too, that a requested fundraising letter was not mailed out earlier, and point out that the school ended the 2008-2009 academic year with a $20,000 surplus.
Parents are reeling from the news that Father Maurer requested permission May 10 from Bishop David A. Zubik to close the school at the end of the year. The bishop has accepted his recommendation.
They learned that night about Father's Maurer's decision at a parents meeting most thought was to be a fundraising progress gathering.
"I did not anticipate this happening," said parent Tim Bissert of Pittsburgh. "I wish they would reconsider this. It's hurtful to a lot of folks."
Father Maurer praised the parents' efforts to keep the school going.
"They made a generous response, but the need was too great," he said. "We've been limping along year-to-year for too long."
In a press release issued Sunday, the Rev. Kris Stubna, diocesan secretary for Catholic education, cited declining enrollment and escalating costs as reasons the school will be closed.
The release also said there are 14 students in eighth grade and just two in kindergarten this year -- though parents counter that 14 had registered for the 2010-11 school year. This year's enrollment is 81 children for kindergarten through eighth grade.
Father Stubna blamed the low enrollment on the dwindling number of school-age children in the Western Pennsylvania area, as well as the fact that "there just continues to be too many [Catholic] schools for the number of kids."
As they struggled with the pending closing, some parents on Monday attended a gathering at the school to meet representatives from nine other kindergarten through grade eight parochial schools in the area.
"The goal is to get most of the children enrolled in another Catholic school," said Father Stubna.
The names of SS. Simon & Jude's 10 full-time teachers and about five part-time instructors will be put on lists of displaced persons or substitute positions, he said.
Though the school will close, the parish will continue to offer prekindergarten classes. Father Maurer also said a senior day care has been discussed.
First Published May 20, 2010 6:12 am