St. Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Academy in Ozone Park is closing its doors in June.
The Board of Members and Board of Directors of the school, located at 103-12 101 Ave., voted to close the school due to declining enrollment, which resulted in severe budget deficits.
“As you can imagine, this is an emotional time for this school community because closing a school greatly impacts the lives of students, parents, and faculty,” said Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D., superintendent of schools.
Enrollment at the school has fallen nearly 51 percent since 2015, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn. The budget for this school year fell short by an approximate $300,000, with the total fund balance projected to be a deficit of $750,000 by the end of the school year.
Collectively, the Catholic Foundation and Futures in Education, through the disbursement of financial assistance to families in need, have invested more than $500,000. The parish of St. Mary Gate of Heaven has also subsidized the operational expenses and building repairs of the Academy, in excess of $1.5 million.
“I respect the boards’ decisions on these matters,” Chadzutko said. “When resources are constrained, it affects all aspects of the learning environment, which eventually impacts students and their needs.”
According to Chadzutko, the Diocese of Brooklyn is committed to making sure that each child enrolled in St. Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Academy will be able to continue receiving a Catholic education.
The affected students will be accommodated at nearby Catholic academies. They will automatically receive a $500 tuition assistance grant if they attend an academy or parish school within the Diocese of Brooklyn, as long as they have met all of their financial obligations. The one-time grant is made possible by the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust.
A parent meeting was held on March 5 at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Academy. An information and registration fair, featuring seven area Catholic schools, is planned for next week.