Our Lady of Nazareth Academy
Questions & Answers Relative to the School’s Closing
Q. Why is the school closing?
Despite tireless efforts to attract students over the years, and particularly this past year with stepped up marketing and recruitment efforts, Our Lady of Nazareth Academy (OLN) is enrolling too few applicants to generate the funds needed to keep the school financially viable. The critically low enrollment coupled with the downturn in the economy has compelled the school’s governing Congregation, the Sisters of the Charity of Nazareth (SCN), to close the school at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. SCN made this difficult decision after a great deal of thought and a thorough review of the financial realities facing the school and the congregation.
Q. Whose decision is it to close the school?
The SCN Congregation owns the school and its property. After much deliberation, it is with deep regret that the SCN, Inc. Board voted to close the school. In accordance with its decision making process for Congregational Ministries, the decision was approved by the Western Board and the Executive Committee of SCN. The decision was then communicated to OLN’s Principal and Board of Directors.
Q. How long has SCN known that they would close the school?
While it has been concerned about the school’s financial health for some time, SCN came to the conclusion to close the school only this week. Its immediate decision was based on the current financial realities, including low enrollment and decreased tuition revenue, increased costs of operations, and lack of sufficient capital to improve antiquated facilities. Further pressure on the timing of the announcement was the need to be fair and just with notifying applicants prior to the date for their receiving acceptance letters.
Q. Does the school have to close? Is there anything that can be done to keep it open?
OLN has had to operate with a deficit budget which is expected to worsen given projected enrollment figures. The current applicant pool, at best, could yield 35 new students, while 50 seniors are graduating this year. OLN’s cash reserves cannot sustain another deficit budget year and SCN cannot allocate the funds needed to meet the school’s financial obligations.
Additionally, there are trends working against OLN: the downturn in the economy, a trend toward co-education, and the inability of religious Congregations to staff and fund ministries as in the past.
Q. What does this mean for the students? What will the school do to help them through this transition?
OLN’s leadership, faculty and staff know how difficult this situation is for students and their families and are committed to doing all that they can in the days, weeks and months ahead to assure a successful transition. Outreach to area schools is underway in an effort to enlist their support and assistance and to work with OLN and their students and their parents going forward. Every attempt will be made to develop an individual transition plan that works for each student.
Next week OLN will host a number of parent and student meetings by class and will continue to bring parents and students real-time information and assistance in planning for the future. The OLN website via the password-protected Ed-Line will also be a source of information in the days ahead.
Q. When will the school close officially and what will this mean for faculty and staff?
OLN will close at the end of the academic year in June 2009. All employment agreements will continue through the end of the academic year.
Q. What happens next?
OLN leadership and faculty will commit the entire day to working closely with students, through prayer, reflection and discussion. There will be a grieving process to go through and guidance counselors will support each student throughout. Ultimately, each young woman will be empowered to be part of her own plan for the future, supported by parents, faculty, and counselors. The goal is to get to a place where all have a positive outlook for the future, celebrate the connection and affiliation with OLN and be thankful for the gifts that the school has given many throughout the years.