St. Joseph Catholic Academy to close

BROOKFIELD—St. Joseph Catholic Academy of Brookfield will close its doors at the end of June and will not re-open for the 20-21 school year.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I must announce with tremendous regret and sadness that SJCA will be closing its doors permanently on June 30, 2020,” said David Hanley, Chairman of the St. Joseph Catholic Academy in a letter to parents. The letter was issued in conjunction with the Diocesan Office of Education after efforts to expand enrollment were unsuccessful.

“The Board, would like to convey our profound sorrow. We are deeply saddened by the reality of St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy closing, saddened for our own families and for yours and for future families who will never come to know the wonderful family that has been St. Joseph’s. Many of us have been associated with this lovely school for a decade or more, some for much, much longer.”

In his letter Hanley indicates that St. Joseph’s had approximately 160 children two years ago but was not profitable.

“Today, SJCA enrolls 66 children and, while tremendous efforts are ongoing, those efforts have not enabled us to predict a marked enrollment increase and viable budget for next year,” he said.

Hanley told parents that despite considerable efforts the school, which includes Pre-K through eighth grades, was unable to achieve a number of enrollment and financial benchmarks established by the Diocese of Bridgeport as part of an overall Strategic Educational Planning Process being undertaken in all of its schools.

“The Diocese set criteria for our enrollment and budget for next year, which would ensure our viability. Given the reality of our situation, the SJCA Board could only provide planning that forecasted continuing, significant financial loss for next year,” he said.

The planning process was launched by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in November 2019, to address the challenges faced by Catholic schools including changing demographics, declining enrollment, Catholic identity and financial issues that have an impact on Catholic education.

Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Steven Cheeseman said the bishop asked the diocesan Education Commission in collaboration with the Office of the Superintendent to undertake the process.

Since that time Since that time the five committees empowered by the commission have been meeting to look at educational models, provide leadership develop and benchmark school viability issues. In December of last year they visited schools and met with parents to discuss the benchmarks necessary for long-term sustainability.

The diocesan Education Commission is expected to issue its final report about the educational and structural models and viability of schools at the end of May.

Hanley said that while the Diocese does not plan to make formal decisions and announcements regarding elementary school closures until later this Spring, the St. Joseph’s board believed believe it is very important to provide families adequate time to make alternative plans.

Re-enrollment deposits can be transferred to another Catholic school or be reimbursed to parents. An official Student Transfer Form will be sent to parents, which enables the school to send the student’s permanent academic records to another school and will allow parents to stipulate how they want their re-enrollment deposit managed.

“We want to support your decision to provide a continuing Catholic school education for your children,” Hanley said.

Nearby schools accepting transfer deposits and applications include Sr. Gregory the Great School, 85 Great Plain Road, Danbury; St. Rose of Lima School, 42 Church Hill Road, Newtown, and St. Joseph’s School, 370 Main Street, Danbury.