“This is a very difficult decision to make at an especially difficult time,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said to families in a video message due to the fact that an in-person gathering with the school community could not be held because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The Diocese of Scranton remains committed to the mission of Catholic education, creating tomorrow’s faith-filled leaders, but the declining enrollment at Monsignor McHugh School has left us with no other option.”
Over the last five years, Monsignor McHugh School, which currently serves grades Pre-K through eight, has seen its enrollment decrease by 56% despite school administrators’ efforts to implement new enrollment and academic initiatives. Currently, there are only 70 students registered for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, the number of school-age children within a 15-mile radius of the school is predicted to decline by almost five-percent by 2024 according to MissionInsite, a demographic analytic firm.
2014-15 Enrollment 2019-20 Enrollment Percent Change
Monsignor McHugh School 218 97 -56%
While the current coronavirus health crisis will certainly have a financial impact on the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System, Monsignor McHugh School was already facing severe financial challenges before the pandemic began. The school’s projected budget deficit for 2019-20 was a loss of almost $450,000.
“I truly wish we did not have to make this decision because we recognize how unique and important Monsignor McHugh is to its community,” Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer, said. “Our most important responsibility remains providing for the educational and spiritual care of our students. We are committed to helping our students and families transition to another Catholic school that best suits their needs.”
The Diocese will offer the families of students currently enrolled at Monsignor McHugh School the opportunity to receive a continuation grant toward their tuition at another Catholic school next year. Any one of the Diocesan Schools is prepared to welcome the Monsignor McHugh families. The closest being Notre Dame Elementary School (Pre-K through Grade 6) and Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School (Grades 7-12), located approximately 15 miles away.
“Making the decision to close a school is the most difficult, heart-breaking decision, because we know how it impacts the lives of so many people,” Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said. “This announcement is even more gut-wrenching and complicated during the COVID-19 pandemic, while our students and families, who are so committed to Catholic education, have been working so hard to continue distance learning.”
The Diocese of Scranton Catholic Schools Office will allow educators and administrators from Monsignor McHugh to apply for any open positions throughout the educational system for the 2020-21 academic year.
About the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System
Each year, the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System provides a well-rounded education to approximately 4,500 students throughout 20 Catholic schools. Educators offer an enriching STREAM curriculum that includes the arts, foreign languages, physical education and the latest computer technology to complement the core subjects of religion, math, language arts, social studies and science.
All of our Catholic schools are accredited by the Middle States Association, and all of our teachers are state-certified educators, who inspire their students and bring amazing experiences into their classrooms. The mission of the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System is to educate students and their families in the Catholic faith. We provide a Catholic education that is spiritually sound and academically excellent. We strive to prepare our students to be faith-filled leaders and life-long leaders dedicated to serving the church and society.