Letter on the Closure of Our Lady of Mercy Academy
8 April 2013
It is with deep regret and profound sadness that this letter comes to share with you the news of the closure of Our Lady of Mercy Academy effective 30 June 2013. This decision resulted from extensive communication between the Administration of the Archdiocese of Newark and Our Lady of Mercy.
This difficult decision was reached due to the continuing economic challenges faced by the school and a rapidly decreasing pool of students choosing Catholic school education in Jersey City. This school year, 2012-2013, the budgeted per student cost for educating one child is $6,195 while the tuition charged is $4,550 for parishioners and $7,400 for non-parishioners with a total enrollment of 165 students in Grade K through 8. The Pre K program enrolls 20 students. Both of these numbers fall far short of the targeted student enrollment.
Despite our best efforts to market Our Lady of Mercy Academy the fact remains that the school is at 66% of enrollment capacity and enrollment has declined by 40% as of the 2011-2012 school year. In fact, over the next three years the enrollment is predicted to decline to just 140 K-Grade 8 students. This school year there are six classes with less than 20 students. While some parents cherish the small class atmosphere, realistically tuition for this type of education would normal approach $15,000. Our families are unable to afford this tuition. Even our current per student cost which exceeds $6,000 does not meet the financial constraints of the budget. Our Lady of Mercy Church does not have the reserves to subsidize the academy, and the parish cannot subsidize the school at the expense of parish programs and ministries. The archdiocese, due primarily to the state of the economy, does not find itself in a position to continue subsidizing operations. In fact, the parish (including the academy) is in debt to the Archdiocese of Newark to the tune of $543,000.
The current school budget is indeed lean and we have lived within its parameters. To attempt to continue the school while curtailing academic services and extra-curricular activities would do a serious disservice to your sons and daughters. Also, the necessary staff constrictions would contribute to the deterioration of the total educational program.
As a result of these irrefutable factors, not only here at Our Lady of Mercy Academy but within our Archdiocese, it is necessary to concentrate our efforts in maximizing school enrollments to nurture fiscally healthy schools. The Catholic elementary schools in the surrounding areas will be able to accommodate the students of Our Lady of Mercy Academy.
The Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education, in conjunction with the school administration, will make every effort to transition the students to other Catholic elementary schools if parents choose. For the benefit of our parents and students, an Information Night will be held at Our Lady of Mercy Academy on Tuesday, 16 April 2013, to to 8:30pm. Hudson County Catholic School administrators and personnel will be available to present their programs and answer questions you may have.
The closure of school is not an easy experience for anyone concerned. However, an understanding on your part of the heroic efforts that have been made and will continue to be made on behalf of your sons and daughters will make the experience easier for them and for us to handle. We are grateful to our teachers and staff for the wonderful work they do each day; we are grateful to you for entrusting your children to our care.
Let us pray for one another at this difficult time. As always, we are counting on you.
Very Reverend John J. Cryan, VF
Pastor, Our Lady of Mercy Church
Ms. Victoria Hayes
Principal, Our Lady of Mercy Academy