Sun-Times/WBBM Religion Roundup: When Catholic schools close, many leave system

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St. Cyprian School in River Grove is among five Catholic schools being closed by the Archdiocese of Chicago. | File photo

The Archdiocese of Chicago recently announced plans to shutter another five parochial schools because of poor finances and low enrollment.

If history is any indication, about a third of the non-graduating students will end up transferring outside the Catholic school system once the closings are completed.

The schools set to close at the end of the school year are in Chicago, Palos Heights, River Grove, Deerfield and Chicago Ridge.

While the church says it will help students “transition” to other Catholic schools, a spokeswoman says that when a Catholic school closes its doors, about 60 to 70 percent typically remain in the system, and the rest move to public or other private schools.

In 2010, there were 255 Catholic schools in Cook and Lake counties — the Chicago Archdiocese. At the end of this year, there will be 209.

Though church officials hope that a new income-tax credit will help enrollment by easing the tuition burden, the archdiocese’s ongoing strategic planning process could lead to more school closings or mergers in coming years.

The Religion Roundup is also featured on WBBM Newsradio (780 AM and 105.9 FM) on Sundays at6:22 a.m., 9:22 a.m.and 9:22 p.m. For more religion coverage, check outsuntimes.com. For tips and comments, email Robert Herguth at rherguth@suntimes.com.

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