HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) – After nearly 150 years in the community, the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announced Monday that St. Patrick’s School in Hubbard will close following the end of this school year.
The Diocese said declining enrollment is the main reason for the closure. This year, just 98 students in kindergarten through eighth grade are enrolled. Ten years ago, the school had 167 children taking classes.
Parents and teachers met with the diocese Monday night to discuss the school’s future. Emotions ran high as they came out of the church in tears, still looking for answers as to why the school has to close its doors.
“They are very hurt, they’re disheartened. The teachers are upset,” said Barbara McVicker, President of the Youngstown Diocese Federation of Teachers. “This school is the oldest Catholic school, I believe, in the diocese. It has a lot of tradition to it, it’s a gem in this community.”
Superintendent Mary Fiala stated that despite efforts from the school and Lumen Christi Catholic Schools, and parish dedication to St. Pat’s, the school cannot remain financially viable.
“We want it to work and we want it to survive, and we have to stop allowing all of these parishes to just close the schools because it doesn’t fit into the financial budget at the moment,” said parent Jennifer DePizzo.
Parents are now facing the question of where to send their children to school.
“In this short amount of time, not only do we need to adjust to this news but most importantly, our children have to adjust to this news and we’re left trying to find a new place for them,” said Leslie Markulin, a concerned parent.
Reverend Michael Swierz, who was recently appointed the new pastor at St. Pat’s, said they will work closely with families to help them find new schools. They will receive information about other Catholic schools in the area and have the opportunity to enroll.
“I don’t know where I’m going to send my kids because I’m not Catholic, so they’re not going to help me,” Cindy Williams said. “I don’t have any other choices at this point.”
The school employs twelve teachers, a principal and four support staff members.
“It’s sad because we have a group of teachers here that are dedicated, as are most of the teachers in the Catholic education system,” McVicker said.
St. Patrick School opened as a two-room schoolhouse in 1870 by Father John Schaffield. It was originally located on the corner of North Main Street and Park Avenue.
In 1915, Father John Maloney built a two-story brick building on Water Street and an addition was added in 1954 by Msgr. John Toole.
The present school building remains at 38 E. Water Street.