CORAOPOLIS (KDKA) – After 58 years, the Saint Joseph School in Coraopolis is being forced to close its doors.
Mounting debt and declining enrollment led to the final decision to close the school.
“There’s a lot of emotions right now, disappointment, some anger, just a lot of sadness,” Daniel Mangine said.
“Our goal was, three years ago, to have 120 students in our school and we’ve continuously declined with lack of enrollment,” Fr. Richard Jones said.
Fr. Jones said it was a tough decision, but on top of the lack of students, they also lost a big benefactor, who donated about $300,000 a year for over a decade.
“We estimated about a quarter of a million dollar deficit for our school. We had to revisit that, look seriously and we felt that it would just be too big of a debt to incur that we couldn’t get out of that,” Fr. Jones said.
It’s been heartbreaking for parents and confusing for others like Brenna Potts, who said there’s only six students in her son’s preschool class.
“To our surprise, Saturday we got a letter in the mail saying that they were closing,” Potts said.
There were efforts to keep the school open, including a fundraiser last year where $328,000 was raised in just six weeks.
However, that money was only able to get them through this school year.
“Everyone making a unified effort and it was really quite tremendous. And there was a lot of hope. But, I think that’s only really served to increase the disappointment now,” Mangine said.
The school will close for good after the conclusion of the current school year. They will still use the building for their meetings, youth center and CCD classes.
There is also an offer on the table to open a new pre-school in the building.