The Archdiocese of Newark announced Wednesday that Immaculate Conception High School “will permanently cease operations at the end of the current school year” on June 30.
Principal Jo Ann Degnan was informed via letter that the school was closing. This letter was also forwarded to parents.
In the letter, declines in enrollment and growing debt were cited as two reasons the school will no longer operate. Standing alone both of these reasons are clear areas of concern, “but together they create an environment that the school cannot overcome without extreme actions.”
In September of 2012 the school reached a low point in enrollment, having only 145 students. A year later in 2013 the number of students enrolled rose to 173 due in part to student additions after all-girls Catholic school Marylawn of the Oranges closed its doors.
Based on current numbers, enrollment for September 2014 is expected to reach only 155.
The Archdiocese stated that low enrollment was the direct cause for the school’s accumulation of debt. Standing at $917,329, this long term accumulation of debt is due to the school’s inability to pay for insurance, healthcare, and pensions for its employees.
In reviewing the school budget for the 2014-15 year, the Archdiocesan Schools Office and Finance Staff were able to determine that without “massive changes in enrollment,” the school would continue to incur debts. This would increase “total liabilities to more than $1.2 million.”
The students, teachers and parents at Immaculate are not handling the news well and plan to fight this course of action.
In a letter expressing her sentiments regarding the school’s closure, Degnan wrote: “Everything we can do to support your children through this closure will be done.”
Math teacher and coach Carlos Franco has set up a GoFundMe.com page, entitled “Keep Immaculate Conception HS OPEN.”
Coaching all three seasons (volleyball, freshman basketball and softball) Franco is committed to keeping the school open.
“I’m just a math teacher, but I love kids and I love the community here, the alumni are great,” said Franco.
With a goal of reaching $500,000, the GoFundMe page has generated almost $38,000 so far with single donations range from $10 to $1,000. Franco came up with the goal by halving the estimated cost of liabilities.
“I think that if we can show the archdiocese that we can cut the debt in half in a weekend, then who knows what we can do in a whole school year,” said Franco. “Hopefully they will see that there is something special going on here and reconsider their decision.”
To donate to the fund please visit: http://www.gofundme.com/Keep-IC-Open