Declining enrollment and “increased financial strain” are among the factors behind the Immaculate Conception Church’s decision to close its school in Downtown Ithaca. The only Catholic school remaining in Tompkins County was founded in 1884.
“The closure of Immaculate Conception School is painful for all concerned,” said a letter from pastor Reverend Father Augustine Chumo and principal Donald Mills, “but it is based on the assessment of declining enrollment, increasing cost projections, and the impact those elements have had and will have on the future welfare of the parish.”
Enrollment at the school, which serves pre-kindergarten through 6th grade, has been about 100 students in the past, but “as of May 2, 2017, registrations totaled 56 students,” according to the letter sent yesterday to church and school families. “Every effort will be made to find a Catholic school for those families interested in continuing to provide a Catholic education for their children, as well as positions in other diocesan schools for those employed by our beloved school.”
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of the Rochester diocese informed Immaculate Conception officials of a decision on Tuesday, saying he and the diocese council agreed with the school’s petition and that it would “not be wise to delay the inevitable.”
“If the school were to remain open, even for one more year, it would jeopardize the future of the parish,” say Father Chumo and Mr. Mills.
The school will close at the completion of the 2016-2017 school year, on June 21st.