Parents trying to stop closure of Palos Heights Catholic school

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There was a mix of heartbreak and disappointment when Amy Diesi found out Incarnation Catholic School may close next year.

She’d dreamed of her two children – in fourth grade and second grade – one day graduating from the Palos Heights school.

Still, she didn’t let the announcement of its potential closure dash her hopes.

Since September, when Diesi says the Archdiocese of Chicago told parents of Incarnation that their school was in jeopardy, she and others formed a committee to rebuild the school by bringing in students and raising money to make sure they can open their doors next school year.

“This school has a long history, and it would be a big blow if we lose it. There are very loyal, committed and devout families working hard to afford the benefit of a Catholic school education,” said Diesi, the school’s parent’s club board president. “I know that this is something we can turn around, and I know it will be worth it because we already see our children reaping the rewards of this education.”

The school could close due to both low enrollment and an archdiocese projection that shows their budget in the red for the next school year, said Erica Gray, who also has two children at the school.

Parents at Incarnation also saytheir school isn’t the only one in jeopardy of closure — Our Lady of the Ridge in Chicago Ridge is also slated to possibly close, they say.

Anne Maselli, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, said final decisions should be made by Cardinal Blase Cupich before Catholic Schools Week at the end of January.

Schools aren’t given specific goals or deadlines to meet, Maselli said, but the archdiocese does want to see schools increasing their funds and head counts — the archdiocese typically likes to see 225 students enrolled, Maselli said.

Incarnation currently has 143 students enrolled, Diesi said.

In order to raise money and awareness, Incarnation hosted a special fundraiser for the school on Sunday to bring in more money and showcase the school. They raised $50,000, according to Andrea Covert, who is on the committee to save the school, but she says the archdiocese has not budged on its original deadline in mid-January.

Covert believes that with enough time the school can correct its course.

“We’ve been faced with the challenge of filling seats,” Covert said. “We believe we can fill seats, but not by the deadline the archdiocese has set. Once Catholic Schools Week comes, and they announce the closures, that may give us a chance to show the beauty of staying open and keeping the Catholic school community together.”

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