NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - A school is shutting down, citing financial sustainability. St. Mary's Catholic Academy will close at the end of the 2012-2013 school year on May 31.
Parents learned their children's Pre-K through 8th grade school just couldn't afford to stay open during a Thursday evening meeting.
"I was very surprised and very shocked that it was so final," Robyn Sekula said. She has three children enrolled and praises the school's innovative education. "It has dynamic programs, has a new principal who's doing all kinds of really wonderful activities - just doesn't occur to you that it could close."
Parishioners may have been privy to a $1.2 million debt. Father Henry Tully mentioned it during Masses, but the closure still stings.
"We have never received anything from the church or archdiocese indicating the school was in a lot of debt until now," Sekula said.
Greg Otolski, the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, issued the following statement:
"Since 2005 St. Mary Parish and its school have been running an operating deficit that will reach $1.2 million by June 2013. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has been loaning the parish and its school money to cover the debt. The parish has made every attempt to reduce expenses and increase revenue, but has not been able to accomplish a balanced budget or project a balanced budget for future years. With these facts, and after several discussions with archdiocesan staff, the difficult decision to close was made."
The archdiocese agreed to forgive the $1.2 million debt.
Students who attend the school will receive a $1,000 scholarship to enroll their children in another Catholic school in the New Albany Deanery.