August 27, 2010

Gladwin’s Sacred Heart School closes, pastor promises vibrant parish life will continue

GLADWIN — Following the recommendation of the school board of trustees, finance council, pastoral council and local pastor, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, announced his acceptance of a collective recommendation to close Sacred Heart School in Gladwin.

The recommendation and approval come following an August 19 enrollment report to the school’s board of trustees that showed only nine students registered for the 2010-2011 academic year. Previous financial projections show that a total enrollment of 15 students would have forced the school to increase tuition by $1,250 and raised the parish’s costs to more than $12,000 per student.

“In a January letter to Sacred Heart parishioners, a commitment was made by both the pastoral and finance councils that our Catholic school would be a school that we could afford,” said the Rev. John Cotter, who has served as pastor of Sacred Heart since 2006. “It is now obvious an affordable Catholic school in our community is not possible.”

The per pupil cost for the 2009-2010 school year — when 38 students were enrolled — was $8,700. The average tuition collected was $2,300 and the parish contribution was $6,400 per student.

“It is a sad day for any parish that has to close a school, but we can be proud of what our school has accomplished,” Father Cotter said. “This is now an opportunity to look forward and recommit ourselves to a solid religious education program for our Catholic students in grades K-12, evangelize our community and make the long overdue capital improvements needed at our parish.”

“We have seen a trend this year of long-standing schools being forced to close, and as a faith community we are united in prayer with the teachers, students, families and parishioners of Sacred Heart who are experiencing a sense of loss,” said the Rev. Robert Byrne, Vicar for Catholic Schools. “The time is now for all of us, at every level, to focus on supporting, strengthening and spreading the good news about Catholic schools. They are a blessing to our diocese and our communities and it is important for us to do everything we can to preserve them both now and in the future.”

Sacred Heart School in Gladwin opened its doors to students in 1918. It closed in 1932 during the Great Depression and reopened twenty years later in 1952. At its peak in 1967 an estimated 165 students were enrolled.

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