Sacred Heart Catholic School, located on Sixth St. in East Toledo, will close its doors for good Friday, May 29.
The school is holding a potluck/picnic Saturday, May 30 beginning at 4:30 p.m. for all students, faculty, parents, parishioners and alumni of the school.
According to Sister Mary Nancy Vance, principal, declining enrollment over the last few years heralded the future.
“We currently have 139 students in kindergarten through eighth grade,” Sr. Vance said. “There were 200 students on the roster when I started here five years ago but I would say 180 actually attended.”
Sr. Vance, who served as vice principal for 21 years at Notre Dame Academy before coming to Sacred Heart, said enrollment had been going up and down since she has been there.
Vance said enrollment increased when Holy Rosary and St. Stephen closed. The state’s Educational Choice program also helped bring in new faces. The program allows children to attend a private school tuition-free if the child’s own home school has received a failing report card from the state, she said.
“Enrollment has been going up and down for years,” she said. “It is a sad day. When I came here, I did not want to see the school close. So many in the area have and we tried to work it through but, like a lot of schools, the financial issues coupled with the enrollment issues were giving us a message.”
Sr. Vance said that a charter school is “looking seriously” at occupying the school’s two buildings. One building is 100 years old and the other, which holds administrative offices, kindergarten, the library, a computer lab, new gymnasium, a faculty room and nurse’s office, is just 10 years old.
“I really do not know where I will be going yet,” Sr. Vance said. “I am still looking at the possibilities. I will miss the students and the parents. We had a very nice working relationship.”
Because of the declining enrollment in the schools, the Toledo Catholic Diocese has adopted the Kateri Catholic School System Plan.
According to Vance, children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade will have the option to attend the Walbridge Campus, formerly St. Jerome, or the Toledo Campus, formerly St. Thomas Aquinas. The Kateri Catholic School Oregon Campus will be housed in Cardinal Stritch High School. Students in grades sixth through eighth will attend the junior high at Stritch.
John A. Vasko, president of the school council, said his three children, Bryce, a seventh-grader, Kaeyla, a fourth-grader and Ashlyn, who is in first grade, would all attend the Kateri schools.
“I wanted them to continue in what we started – to continue receiving a Catholic education,” Vasko said. “I believe strongly in Catholic education. There seems to be smaller class sizes, a challenging curriculum and I like that the children are prepared for the next grade level. I also like the faith in religion and God and the discipline.”
Vasko said he was saddened by the closing of Sacred Heart but was glad that the Kateri Academy is available.
“It is unfortunate,” Vasko said. “I am upset, but I am appreciative that we have the opportunity to continue to allow Catholic education to survive in East Toledo through the Kateri development.”
The potluck/picnic will include games for children and the sharing of yearbooks and photos of the school throughout the years. Those interested in attending are asked to call the school at 419-691-0869.