After years of financial woes and lower enrollment, St. Kieran School will be closing at the end of its 2012-2013 school year, according to a school board member.
The school has had decreased enrollment in recent years and has had to borrow money from the Archdiocese of Chicago, building up to a debt of more than $1 million.
Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, O.P. Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools responded to Patch inquiries about the closing with the following statement:
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools is supporting St. Kieran parish’s request to close St. Kieran School at the end of this school year due to ongoing enrollment and financial concerns. The parish has provided years of generous support in underwriting Catholic education at the site.
Patch took to Facebook to find out how former students and parents of students were taking the news. The reponses revealed suspicion about the motives for closing the school.
"I am a 1980 graduate of St. Kieran and I can say it was the best time of my life," said Mary C. Mascolino Blum. "I am still in contact with over 60 percent of the kids I graduated with. I think something fishy went on and I hope the truth comes out."
Grazia DiGiovanni laments the closing of St. Kieran, pointing it out as a major blow for Chicago Heights:
"I still attend St. Kieran church when I am back home visiting my folks and I know a lot of people who went there. I was so very sad to hear about this and it brought back a lot of memories of when my school, Mount Carmel, closed in 90. There is just nothing left of the wonderful town I grew up in, and with each of these closings its only going to get worse. I feel sad that kids today will never know the Heights the way it was when I was younger... safe, vibrant and great place to call home."
The closing of the school has raised a slew of questions from parents and former students. Some have suggested a merger with St. Joseph's in Homewood could solve the problem. Others are curious as to why more information was not sent out beforehand.
St. Kieran officials have yet to make a public statement about the closure but have had meetings explaining the situation to parents, students and parishoners.
Patch will post new information as it is confirmed.