Dear Parishioners of St. Mark’s Catholic Church,
The peace of Christ be with you as we conclude this holy Octave of Easter.
This evening I have some very difficult news to share with you. I need to alert you to some changes we are making at St. Mark’s Catholic School, and want you to hear about those changes from me directly.
For decades, St. Mark’s School has struggled with what many private schools across the country are struggling with as well: decreasing enrollment and increasing costs. As recently as five years ago, we served 179 students. Next year, we have a projected enrollment of 32. The parish has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to make up the difference between tuition and the true cost of educating the students. Each of you can be certain that we have done our best, as a parish, to promote and support the good of Catholic education. Unfortunately, the parish no longer has the money to continue to fund the school as it operates now.
So we had to make some very difficult decisions quickly.
This afternoon, we completed a reduction in force at the school. Seventeen positions were cut for the 2019-20 school year, which will eliminate grades K-8 in the school for next year. Our preschool will remain open. Our focus will now be on growing our early childhood classes, which are showing excellent enrollment. All teachers and staff have been notified and, for those whose position was eliminated, they will receive severance. This decision was made thoughtfully, prayerfully and in consultation with our Parish Council and Finance Council. Following policy on significant change to a Catholic school, we informed the Archdiocese of our intention to restructure the school and find a new way to meet the needs of families.
We are thankful for the talents our employees have shared with the Church. Please pray for all who have dedicated themselves in service of Christ through the Church, and in particular keep these good people in your prayers during this difficult time.
We will be reaching out again with information on plans to celebrate the wonderful century our school has served the children of our parish and community. We would love for you to be a part of that event. We also have some hard work ahead of us as a parish to evaluate how we are being good stewards to the money given to us.
Easter is a season that reminds us that what seems like defeat, is not always so. Certainly the news you have just received is heartbreaking, and the real pain that each of us is feeling shouldn’t be minimized. But we trust that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” [Rom 8: 28] We may not see the good God intends yet, but we trust it is there.
As we enter into these last weeks of the school year, let’s remain united in prayer and service to our students and families. Be assured of my continued prayers for you as well.
May the Lord bless you abundantly,
Fr Humberto Palomino, PES