South Boston, MA - Following a rapid 45% decline in enrollment since 2003 and increased costs to operate, St. Mary Elementary School, located at 52 Boston Street in South Boston, announced it will close at the conclusion of the current academic year on June 30, 2008.

Currently there are 105 students enrolled, down from 148 one year ago. School personnel expect that no more than 85 students would be enrolled for the 2008-2009 school year making it financially impossible to continue operating the school.

In making the announcement, Rev. Jerzy Auguscik OFM Conv., Pastor of Our Lady Of Czestochowa Parish in South Boston said, "St. Mary's has provided an outstanding Catholic education to children of all ethnic backgrounds for close to 100 years. The principals and teachers who have served the children and families in our school well over the years and have provided an excellent education and a strong formation in faith."

Every student currently enrolled is guaranteed a seat in one of the neighboring Catholic schools. The Catholic School Office for the Archdiocese will work closely with parents to provide for a smooth transition to one of the schools, which include Gate of Heaven Elementary School (609 East Fourth Street), St. Brigid Elementary School (866 East Broadway) and the newly established Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester/Mattapan.

Parents will be informed of upcoming Open Houses at a neighboring Catholic school. Teachers and staff will be placed on a priority list to be considered for openings at another Catholic school.

Fr. Auguscik added, "It is part of my pastoral responsibility to make this challenging and difficult decision and deliver it to the school community in a timely manner. Change is always difficult. It is especially painful when the change involves a school that is loved by so many."

Teachers were notified of the decision at a Friday, January 25th meeting followed by a meeting with parents that evening. Currently there are 10 teachers and 15 staff members (i.e., volunteers, aides, secretary, janitor) employed at St. Mary's.

Parents are encouraged to direct their questions and concerns to the school, which is working closely with the Catholic School Office to provide for the transition.