News and Tribune

January 17, 2013

St. Mary’s school announces closing

$1.2 million deficit cited as reason

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — After 64 years at its location on Eighth Street in New Albany, the closure of St. Mary’s Catholic Academy was announced by the Indianapolis Archdiocese on Thursday night.

A letter given to parents by the Rev. Henry F. Tully, administrator of the St. Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church, says a deficit running since 2005 will reach $1.2 million by June. The letter says efforts to cut budgets and increase cash flow have been difficult.

“With these facts, and after several discussions with the archdiocesan staff, the difficult decision to close was made,” Tully’s letter says.

Robyn Davis Sekula, a parent of three children who attend the school, said this is the first she’s been made aware of any financial problems at the school in the two years she’s enrolled her daughters.

“During [the last two years], I’ve had no communication from anyone that the school was in any jeopardy,” Davis Sekula said. “I deeply resent that the parents of children at St. Mary’s were not given the opportunity to pay increased tuition or to fundraise to save the school.”

The letter from Tully says active parish members will be able to enroll their children for the next school year at a New Albany Deanery Catholic school at parish rates.

School families from kindergarten to seventh grade will also be eligible for a one-time $1,000 scholarship per family is they enroll at a New Albany Deanery Catholic school for the next school year.

Tully’s letter also says the Indianapolis archdiocese will also forgive the $1.2 million debt.

Sekula said had parents been notified of financial issues at the school, they probably would have pitched in.

“I think many parents would have paid [increased tuition,]” Davis Sekula said. “St. Mary’s, to me, is a special school and I wanted my children there all the way through eighth grade.”

According to “New Albany in Vintage Postcards,” the current St. Mary’s School building was completed in 1949. The school’s website says Saint Mary’s Parish has had a history of Catholic education going back to 1872.

St. Mary’s enrollment for 2011-12 — the last year for which figures are available — was 126, according to the Indiana Department of Education’s website.