Ste. Jeanne d'Arc School to close

LOWELL -- Citing a decline in enrollment, Ste. Jeanne d'Arc School in Lowell has announced that it will close at the end of the current academic year.

The news was shared in a Jan. 13 letter to the school community, signed by Principal Mollie Williams and Board of Trustees Chair Monique Letendre. It was also shared through the school's social media.

The letter said the board of trustees made the "difficult decision" to close Ste. Jeanne d'Arc "after months of prayerful and thoughtful consideration." They cited a lack of resources due to decreasing income tuition, which is the school's primary source of revenue.

"A shrinking student population over the years has seriously affected our ability to meet our financial obligations and to ensure a long-term fiscal viability," the letter said.

According to the school's website, the cost per pupil for grades kindergarten through eight is about $11,500. Fundraisers and income from the Advancement Program enable the school to lower the cost of tuition to $6,300 per pupil for those grades. Pre-kindergarten tuition is $6,900.

In the letter, Letendre and Williams assured the school community that the teachers, staff, and administration are "committed to making the remaining months of this school year as educationally meaningful as always and to completing the year in the spirit of community that continues to be a hallmark of the SJA school family."

Ste. Jeanne d'Arc was founded by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1910 in the Pawtucketville neighborhood of Lowell. Affiliated with St. Rita Parish, the school was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa until 2021. A total of over 4,700 students have graduated from Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, according to the school's website.

Letendre and Williams promised to help students and their families find other schools, and asked for prayers for SJA staff and students during "this difficult time."

"We are confident that the legacies of Ste. Jeanne d'Arc and the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa will live on in our current students as they transition to a new educational experience and in our alumni who carry with them all they have learned at SJA," they said.