Last of Catholic schools to leave Niles

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Families in Niles seeking a Catholic education for their children will have to look outside of the city beginning next school year.

Youngstown Bishop George Murry announced Wednesday that St. Stephen Catholic School, 45 South Chestnut Ave., will close at the end of the school year.

St. Stephen Parish recommended closing the school to the diocese and Bishop Murry accepted the recommendation.

According to a news release, declining enrollment and budgetary constraints have contributed to the decision to close the school.

The student population at the school sits at 88, with 69 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Nineteen students are enrolled in pre-school. The numbers represent a 67 percent decline over the past 15 years.

Until recently, the parish was contributing approximately $190,000 annually to subsidize the school’s budget. That amount was reduced to $90,000 in order for the church to meet other financial obligations. The school was charged with raising the deficit on its own, but could not meet the benchmark.

Principal Christina Vince said school administrators will be meeting with parents in the coming months to discuss other Catholic education options in the area.

“We certainly want them to remain in Catholic schools and we will be meeting with the families to discuss options. Locally, St. Rose in Girard, JFK lower campus in Warren and St. Joseph Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Austintown are close by,” said Vince.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich said he was disappointed the school was not able to remain viable but praised the staff, parents and students for their effort in keeping the school operating.

St. Stephen School opened in 1868. At its peak in the 1998-1999 school year enrollment was at 215 students. When the school closes at the end of the year, there will not be a Catholic school in the city of Niles. Our Lady of Mount Carmel closed its doors in 2007.

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