The following comes from a February 28 story in the Marin Independent Journal.
St. Rita School in Fairfax, a parochial school that began in 1957, will close its doors at the end of this school year because of low enrollment and budget deficits, the school’s pastor said Thursday. A group of parents has vowed to fight the closure.
“The problem we have is the same across the United States: dwindling numbers of students and higher personnel costs,” said the Rev. Ken Weare. Enrollment at the school, which encompasses preschool through eighth grade, dropped over the past two years, from 151 to 143 and to the current enrollment of 133, Weare said.
The school’s annual budget is $1.3 million, and most of its income is from tuition, an average of $7,600 a year, the pastor said. However, “95 of the 133 are paying full tuition and others are not,” Weare said. “This year we gave $158,000 in tuition assistance.”
Despite efforts to raise money through grants and events such as a gala, an annual fund, yard sale and bingo, “we have come to a point where our financial obligations are beyond critical,” the pastor said in a letter that went to the school’s families Wednesday.
Rising personnel costs are another factor, Weare said Thursday. “The cost for salary and benefits for our teachers and staff is 86 percent of the total budget,” Weare said.
While the school can meet payroll and financial obligations for the rest of this year, it will not be able to do so in the coming school year. Because of this, the plan is for the school to close at the end of this school year.
“This is horrible. I am devastated. But we are not going to go down without a fight,” said Breanna Gubbins, parent of Maggie, in seventh grade, Georgia, in second grade, and Grace, who graduated from St. Rita last year.
“The parents are rallying together to save our school,” the Fairfax resident said. She said her group has deluged the parish office with phone calls supporting the school.
“Yes, enrollment is shrinking. But this would be the first year we would need a subsidy from the archdiocese (of San Francisco),” Gubbins said. She estimated the amount needed from the archdiocese as around $300,000….
The parents will meet at 6 p.m. Sunday at the St. Rita parish hall to sound off on the issue and strategize, Gubbins said.
In addition to the students who will be without a school, about 25 employees would lose their jobs. In an effort to soften the blow, the school has set up two Monday meetings, one for the teachers and one for the students’ families.
“The principals of all the Catholic schools in Marin have been notified that our school is closing and we’re having a meeting Monday at 4:30 p.m. for parents,” Weare said. “The principals will give parents school application forms and information about their schools.”
According to Weare, there is room at the various Marin parochial schools for St. Rita students. “There are 12 parishes in Marin and I believe there are about 12 Catholic schools, one high school and 12 grammar schools,” the pastor said.
To read entire story, click here.
over 80% of the budget involved staff salaries? Where are our Sisters who devote there lives to Christ and poverty, why are they not teaching our children. That would help bring the schools costs down, oh wait, the teachers unions.
Parochial school teachers don’t HAVE unions, Joe. At least not here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. (High schools are a whole different story.)
Furthermore, even if this school WAS run by Sisters, they would likely receive the same salaries as moms and dads, because they have so many old Nuns to support via the money they earn.
Give the church and school to a Traditional order. Reinstitute the TLM, or, better yet, have only Traditional sacraments available at this church. Things would quickly change for the better (although the screaming of local Catholic, and non-Catholic, identity groups would be extreme). But, with Benedict gone, it is likely that Tradition will be widely attacked; old, liberal clerics are already out with everything from rolling back the new missal translation, to re-ex-communicating the SSPX, to having a Vatican III to bring in all the wonderful “Springtime” events that were left undone by VII, like female ordination, homosexual sexual recognition and marriage and all that. Time to stand and fight, Traditionalists. Do not accept compromise, or defeat. Pray for the Holy Ghost to bring forth votes for Cardinal Burke, or someone equally part of the continuity of the Church.
This is the pastor who kicked off Lent with a lecture series featuring Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and Professor Lisa Fullam–both of whom reject the Church’s teaching on homosexuality; Fullam supports same sex marriage. Fr. Weare also, just a week or two ago, inserted an article by Hans Kung into the parish bulletin. It was Kung’s op-ed in the New York Times, called “A Vatican Spring?” (https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/opinion/a-vatican-spring.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&). Of course it is highly critical of JPII and BXVI and calls for “new directions” in the Church?
Is it any wonder enrollment is declining? There’s a simple solution to this problem, for the school and the parish. And it’s as simple as AbC.
Father Fessio, thank you for your interesting observations about what the parish has been up to. I certainly wouldn’t want to send MY kids to a school that’s contradicting Church teaching right and left.
However, what do you mean by “ABC?” I don’t understand.
ABC is Archbishop Cordileone.
Thanks, guys, for clearing that ABC abbreviation up for me!
One more question: the subheading to this article says “Parents hope to turn around archdiocese decision.”
However, the article itself seems to indicate it was the pastor who decided to close the school.
Which is it?
The pastor, or the Archdiocese of San Francisco?
Who makes these decisions?
Fr. Fessio the idea of a Vatican Spring is scary. We know the Arab Spring lead to death and persecution of Christians and women. Let us hope that our true faith and history is taught in Catholic schools so that children may grow strong in their faith as Catholics.
From what I’ve heard about this parish and school, this is a good thing. A very good development!
Doesn’t this sound similar to the story on Verbum Dei HS last week, except it was a pro-abortion politician? Is it an epidemic or just coincidence that these schools are being found out?
St. Christopher, your comments about Tradition led me to check the website of Saint Raphael Ministries, where I learned that Saint Rita Church is the ONLY parish in Marin County that has no Eucharistic Adoration, at all, ever.
Perhaps you are on to something!
(Some of the other Marin County parishes have Eucharistic Adoration every single day.)
Another example of the “springtime” of Vatican II. What is not built on a solid foundation will eventually crumble.
I know for a fact that this ‘Catholic’ school HAS NOT BEEN CATHOLIC
for a very long time!
They had an AWESOME Pastor, Father Robert Cipriano, before Fr. Weare and Father Cipriano was not appreciated to say the LEAST!!!
I am happy they are closing , it is best for the children, they need
the ‘REAL DEAL’ in Catholic teaching!!!
Thank you Father Fessio, YOU ARE THE ‘REAL DEAL :)
Better that it closes, remember that bit about the millstone from Matthew 18:6…
Mea culpa for not speaking up when I saw this taped on the windows at St. Rita School in 2011: Halloween decorations, including a cardboard image of a witch. Hopefully that got corrected this past year—I wasn’t around to see—but what were they thinking? Incomprehensible, as is the decision to include Hans Kung’s piece in the Parish bulletin or invite as speakers those who flagrantly hold positions contrary to Church teachings. Sometimes I think that we would all benefit if our priests had to respond to a periodic Archdiocese-generated questionnaire in which they, on the honor system, were required to state what they personally believe about the teachings of the Faith. I wonder how many would be willing to tell the truth. Sadly, the day is long past when one could take for granted a priest’s alignment with the Magisterium. But let us also give credit and gratitude where they are due. Every year, they hold a wonderful Passover seder linking us to our Jewish brothers and sisters. And I must say how grateful I have been that, even though they don’t have scheduled Eucharistic Adoration, their chapel policy allows sitting with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on one’s own time. I have enjoyed many peaceful hours there, and the chapel is always beautiful, clean, and quiet, with Bibles, Missals, printed-out prayers, and inspiring reading materials on the shelves nearby. I know others who have been greatly blessed by that availability.
St. Raphael’s in San Rafael should be able to pick up the slack caused by the closure of St. Rita’s. I went to St. Raphael’s in the `60s. My 1967 graduating class was 95, last year’s was around 30. Run carpools from Fairfax and the St. Rita’s kids should be OK at St. Raphael’s.
God save the parochial schools!
I looked at the Census data for Fairfax. Small town, few kids– hey, it’s Marin County, I’m sure contraception is nearly universal. The community is well-off financially, with a median household income of over $100,000. With around 800 kids in the town who fit the age range of the parochial school, the school would need to take in most of the Catholic kids (probably around 150-200) and some others to be viable. A progressive AmChurch outlet like this probably doesn’t have a prayer to get devout Catholic parents to greatly sacrifice financially to place their children in the school.
FrMichael, if “contraception is nearly universal” in Fairfax, where did all those kids come from?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Mackz: It appears as if many families have their boutique one or two kids and that’s it. Youth are not a large percentage of the population.
FrMichael, that was really offensive.
Guys, I just checked the web site for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and St. Rita’s is SURROUNDED by many other Catholic parochial schools, so the children will not go wanting.
I’m especially rooting for St. Raphael School, where the enrolllment is very low, and where children from lowincome Hispanic families are numerous — they could use the boost in the number of students.
The return to genuine catholicism would cure the problem. The Traditional parishes are growing while this trend is continuing at the majority of V2 schools. They attract new nuns that are inspired to teach authentic Catholicism and more enrollment from families who seek the same for their children. The progressive ship is going down while the occupants are in denial.
I’m sorry to hear about St Rita School having to close, but at our schoo, which is very closeby, there is a lot of room for these children. St Rafael School has terrific diversity and the students from St Rita would be most welcome!!! The arrival of so many new children would also help make our school stronger, which woud make us very happy.