Release Date: March 17, 2023
St. Mary Catholic School in Hillsboro to Close; Preschool Plans to Remain Open
St. Mary Catholic School, operated by St. Mary Catholic Parish in Hillsboro, will close at the end of the current school year, effective July 1, 2023.
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, accepted a joint recommendation from the parish pastor, the parish council, and Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese that the school close. However, the preschool is planning to remain open.
“We are very sad that this decision was necessary,” said Ms. Susan Gibbons, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “St. Mary is an excellent school that has been providing Catholic values and a quality education for children for more than twenty years. The school has been a cherished part of the small community in rural Highland County. This is a loss for not only the students and families but for the entire community.”
St. Mary Catholic School has been strongly supported by the community. Several yearly community events raised money to assist with tuition costs at the school. These included the Lenten fish frys, quarter raffles, and golf tournaments. “I would like to thank all the families for the wonderful support they have shown over the years,” said Mr. Benjamen Pence, principal of St. Mary Catholic School. “It is heartbreaking to have to close the school and I wish nothing but the best for all of our students and staff.”
St. Mary School has been in operation since the 2000-2001 school year. The school began with a total of 12 students in the first and second grades in the fall of 2000. Two grades were then added each year until it became fully accredited from the Ohio Catholic School Accrediting Association in 2010. In recent years, enrollment has become a major struggle, especially after COVID-19. Currently, the school has only 17 students, but the school needs 34 students to be viable.
Fr. Michael Paranuik, pastor at St. Mary Parish in Hillsboro, has informed the staff, parish and school families of the upcoming closure, saying in part, “We need to celebrate the 23 years and what good we have done and the wonderful blessings for our students. As we close this door, God will open another door.”
Although St. Mary Catholic School is closing at the end of this school year, the preschool program is planning to remain open. More details about the preschool program will be forthcoming in the next several months.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 51st largest Catholic diocese in the country, with around 435,000 Catholics, and has the fifth largest Catholic school system in terms of enrollment with nearly 40,000 students. The 19-county territory includes 208 canonical parishes organized into 57 Families of Parishes, and 113 Catholic primary and secondary schools.
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