Clinton Hill

Clinton Hill Catholic school’s sudden closure cuts it close to start of school year

St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy will close on Aug. 31. School starts on Sept. 4.

August 13, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick

A Clinton Hill Catholic school will close at the end of the month. The sudden announcement, made Tuesday morning, comes just under a month shy of the start of a new school year.

The recently merged St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy at 300 Vanderbilt Ave. will close its doors on Aug. 31 after more than a century of educating, according to the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

St. Francis Xavier, originally located at 763 President St. in Park Slope, also served its community for more than 100 years before joining forces with Queen of All Saints on Vanderbilt last June.

Officials say the decision — made by the school’s Board of Members and Board of Directors — was prompted by a 30 percent decline in enrollment since the 2018-2019 school year ended in June.

The drastic dip, the diocese said, put the school in significant debt, with a negative balance of $676,639 projected for the 2019-2020 school year.

“This decision was not an easy one to make and took much discussion on the part of the Members of the Academy. It comes after many efforts on the part of the diocesan support staff to maintain a financially viable and high-quality educational program in this section of Brooklyn,” said Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn and chairperson of the academy’s board. “We regret that factors beyond our control led to this decision so close to the start of the school year.”

Enrollment has been on the decline for some time, according to officials. A press release issued Tuesday by the diocese stated that, even prior to the merger of St. Francis Xavier and Queen of All Saints, enrollment at the K-8 Clinton Hill school was trending downward.

There were 213 students enrolled for the 2013-2014 school year, according to the release, and just 122 signed up for 2017-2018. The dioceses attributes the drop to a demographic change in Clinton Hill, as well as in surrounding neighborhoods like Park Slope and Fort Greene.

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A parent information night has been scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20, to assist families in enrolling their children in neighboring Catholic Academies. Representatives from Queen of the Rosary, St. Gregory the Great, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Joseph the Worker and St. Saviour are slated to be in attendance.

“We are most appreciative of the leadership and efforts of the administration, faculty, and staff for all that they have tried to do to sustain St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy,” Chadzutko said. “We also recognize the efforts and support of the parents. We understand the impact this decision will have on the students and their families and will assist them in the transition.”

St. Francis Xavier-Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy was founded in 1910. Its closing comes at the same time as Bishop Kearney High School’s, which announced its impending shutdown in May, nearly a month before students’ last day of school. The all-girls high school was founded in 1961.

Another Bensonhurst Catholic school, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Academy, closed in June after 92 years in southern Brooklyn, though news of its last days came in early February.

The first day of school for the Brooklyn Diocese is Sept. 4, a spokesperson said.

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