St. Jane de Chantal among 5 Chicago-area Catholic schools closing

The schools are set to shut down at the end of the school year because of low enrollment and financial trouble, the Archdiocese of Chicago says.

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St. Jane de Chantal elementary school

St. Jane de Chantal elementary school

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Five Catholic elementary schools, one of them in Chicago and the rest in the suburbs, are set to close at the end of the school year because of low enrollment and financial trouble, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Monday.

The Chicago school, St. Jane de Chantal in Garfield Ridge on the Southwest Side, has lost almost 100 students in the past three years and missed its fundraising goal to keep the school open one more year, the archdiocese said.

“School closures are difficult and complicated and we realize the impact this has on students, their families and our staff,” said Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools, in a statement. “The archdiocese will be working with each affected student and employee to assist them in finding places at other Catholic schools.”

St. Jane employed 14 teachers and six staff members, and enrolled 202 K-8 students during the 2018-19 school year, according to state records. The school had 245 students in the 2017-18 school year, 272 in 2016-17 and 281 in 2015-16, records show.

The suburban schools the archdiocese plans to shut down are St. Colette in Rolling Meadows; St. Joseph in Round Lake; St. Louise de Marillac in La Grange Park; and St. Maria Goretti in Schiller Park. The archdiocese currently educates more than 70,000 students at 209 schools.

The closings come after the Chicago Sun-Times reported in February 2019 that the archdiocese is more than $200 million in debt, mostly related to sex abuse claims.

An archdiocese spokeswoman said those financial troubles are unrelated to the school closings and instead cited individual schools’ fundraising failures and statewide population decline as reasons why the schools could no longer afford to operate.

The archdiocese works with schools to set fundraising goals, and there’s a limit on how much the schools can be supported if they can’t sustain themselves, the spokeswoman said.

The Catholic church has also endured decades of declines in attendance, with a 2018 Archdiocese of Chicago report finding only 20% of Chicago-area Catholics went to church that October. That was a 4.2% decline from the previous year alone.

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