Hyde Park’s private Catholic school closing

Citing rising costs, budget shortfalls, decreased enrollment and declining membership in their order, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters announced that their school in Hyde Park. Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial School, run by the sisters and independent of the archdiocesan school system, will close at the end of this school year, in a statement from Sister Madonna Marie Harvath, OSF.

Preliminary enrollment figures for the upcoming academic year indicated that the school would operate at a loss as it did during the current year. Even with increased tuition, the operating and capital budgets for next year would produce a deficit that “was projected to be far beyond the ability of the school to absorb,” the statement said.

“The congregation has provided support to help meet budgetary shortfalls,” said Sister Madonna. “But given the current economic climate, even that level of support is no longer sufficient to maintain the school. We deeply regret the necessity of ending three quarters of a century of service to students and families.”

Sister Kathleen Carr, CSJ, superintendent of schools, said although the school does not fall under the Office for Catholic Schools, the office will assist both families of students and teachers who desire to transition into other Catholic schools. The office researched area schools in order to present parents with tuition and enrollment information at a meeting on May 12. There are “ample seats” at five area schools, she said.

Sister Kathleen said she hopes the information will reassure parents of the 157 displaced students that their children will be able to continue their Catholic education.

“When the dust settles, we’ll be alright,” she said.

The closing of the school, built 50 years ago, is the “end of an era,” said Sister Kathleen, adding that she was saddened by the news but grateful for the work of the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters in the past.