Yes, a decline of more than half the student body within the last three years signaled a dangerous spiral in the school’s enrollment.
And yes, when a major Greater Boston nonprofit fund-raising drive aimed at generating some $4 million then raises just $265,000 (see news story, Page 1) it would take more than a few bake sales, auctions, Las Vegas nights, raffles and other projects to make up that stunning and most disappointing difference.
But even against those obstacles, it’s also unfortunate that neither the St. Ann School’s Board of Trustees nor especially the Archdiocese of Boston reached out before last week to let the school parents, teachers or others know that the school’s financial and enrollment numbers were so dire as to threaten St. Ann’s very continuance after serving the community for 128 years.
For, by their sudden announcement that the school would indeed be closing for good in roughly six weeks, those officials have done a disservice to parents, students and staff members who should have at least been told before enrolling their children for next year that there might not be a “next year,” as we now know is the case. And we may always wonder if, once parents and others in the community might have known of the school’s course, there might not have been some means of garnering at least a temporary reprieve.
For the truth is, this isn’t just a loss for Cape Ann’s proud and longstanding chiurch and Catholic community, it’s a significant loss to the community as a whole.
Just a year ago, Gloucester had what seemed a progressive series of educational options for students and parents, with both St. Ann and the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School both serving as choices for those who preferred them to public school systems, in Gloucester or in neighboring towns. Now, with the exception of Eastern Point Day School and the tiny Faith Christian School on Washington Street, there are, in fact none.
To that end, we extend thanks and praise to all who have worked so hard to help lead St. Ann School through its 128 years. We also wish the best for parents in finding new, suitable educational sites for their children.
But we also hope that school and archdiocesan officials provide answers to those parents as to why they were seemingly kept out of the loop regarding the school’s future — and if there is still any means of reversing this disheartening course.