LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Six Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — including St. Ferdinand School in the City of San Fernando and St. Catherine of Sienna school in Reseda — are closing due to low enrollment, shifting demographics and financial difficulties, with the coronavirus pandemic likely providing the final nail in their coffins, Archdiocese officials said.
Besides St. Catherine and St. Ferdinand, the remaining schools to be consolidated with other area Catholic schools at the end of the 2020-21 school year are:
— Assumption School (Los Angeles)
— Blessed Sacrament School (Hollywood)
— St. Francis of Assisi School (Los Angeles)
— St. Madeline School (Pomona).
“These six schools had been trying to overcome financial challenges long before the pandemic,” said Paul Escala, Superintendent of Catholic Schools.
“After careful discernment with Archdiocesan and school leadership, the decision was reached to consolidate these schools with nearby schools to create a union that would strengthen the school communities in the area so that all students can continue to receive the quality Catholic education that our schools provide.”
The announcement came earlier this week as Archdiocese officials noted the academic gains made by students during the pandemic, as schools continued welcoming back students now that restrictions are being eased.
According to the Archdiocese, over 60% of high school students assessed grew academically at a typical or higher rate in math and reading from fall 2020 to winter 2021 when compared nationally with their peers across the same platform.
A further breakdown showed that:
— 74.9% of students in kindergarten met or exceeded the benchmark (4.1% increase);
— 69.9% of students in Grade 1 met or exceeded the benchmark (7.7% increase);
— 62.8% of students in Grades 2-8 met or exceeded the math benchmark (4.4% increase);
— 55.8% of students in Grades 2-8 met or exceeded the reading benchmark (2.4% increase);
— 34.3% of students in Grade 9 met or exceeded the math benchmark (4.4% increase);
— 35.1% of students in Grade 9 met or exceeded the reading benchmark (5.1% increase).
Though there have been many challenges and some setbacks, our Catholic school communities have demonstrated resiliency throughout this crisis,” Escala said. “As our Catholic schools welcomed students back, our students were able to celebrate the sacrament of their First Holy Communion something they missed early on in the pandemic.
“Our Catholic schools continue to demonstrate academic performance growth in reading and math in both elementary and high schools. This among so many other accomplishments, is something we can all be proud of. Our schools are open, safe and excited to welcome our students back to campus to finish the school year strong!”