THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Medford Catholic school set to shut down

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / May 21, 2010

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A Catholic school in Medford serving pupils from prekindergarten through eighth grade will close in June after a five-year decline in enrollment, the Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday.

St. Francis of Assisi School will close at the end of the academic year, and students will be able to enroll at St. Joseph School in Medford and the Cheverus School in Malden, the archdiocese said.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish has subsidized its school over the last three years and racked up a deficit of more than $150,000, according to the archdiocese.

Enrollment was projected at 135 students next year, a 50 percent decline since 2005 and below the enrollment of 205 required to balance the school’s budget, the archdiocese said.

The Rev. Joseph R. Foster, pastor of St. Francis parish, said he was saddened by the closing.

“However, I am confident that the mission and vision of the school will continue by consolidating our students with two outstanding schools such as St. Joseph and Cheverus,’’ Foster said in a statement.

Open houses are scheduled at Cheverus Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday at 6 p.m. St. Joseph has open houses planned for Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 6 each night.

Mary Grassa O’Neill, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, cited several reasons for the closing.

“Working with pastors and educators across the archdiocese, we are addressing the challenges of the tough economic climate, changing demographics, declining enrollment, and resulting financial constraints,’’ she said in a statement yesterday.

Susan Degnan and James Deveney, principals of Cheverus and St. Joseph respectively, called St. Francis an “outstanding educational institution,’’ in a joint statement to parents yesterday.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com.

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