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Faced with declining enrollment and increased operating costs, the Brooklyn Diocese will close St. Gerard Majella School in Hollis this June.
The school, located at the corner of 188th Street and 91st Avenue, was first established in 1923. It has been losing students for the last few years, according to the Diocese.
Enrollment at the school, with students from kindergarten through 8th grade, reached a high of 212 in 2005. Today, however, there are only 177 students in the entire school.
It is a longstanding principle for parish schools in Brooklyn and Queens that when enrollment from grades K-through-8 goes below 225 students, it is identified as “at-risk of closing,” according to Frank DeRosa, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Diocese.
With fixed costs (such as electricity and heat) rising and teachers looking for more money, the financial burden on the parishioners is becoming a problem.
According to financial data developed by the school, the total cost per pupil is $6,848. However, the tuition charged to send a child to the St. Gerard Majella School is only $3,750, DeRosa said.
At 177 children enrolled, that works out to a deficit of over $548,000 a year.
The parish, in an ethnically-diverse, middle-class neighborhood where houses sell for under $400,000, “does not have the financial resources to bridge the gap,” DeRosa said.
In contrast, the average cost per pupil of the New York City Public School system is $11,468 for general education students, according to a web site for the Department of Education (DOE).
Thomas Chadzutko, the superintendent of Catholic School Support Services, said that, “schools in neighboring parishes will have seats to accommodate children from St. Gerard Majella who wish to continue to receive a Catholic education.” There are plans under way to assist the faculty members who wish to teach at other Catholic schools in the Diocese, according to Chadzutko.

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