The St. Cecelia's School webpage proudly announces that they've been in business for 50 years, and they're "looking forward to letting our light shine for another 50."
It's not to be.
A bad economy and declining enrollment has caused St. Cecelia's School in Iselin to announce they'll be shutting their doors at the end of the school year.
Rev. Jerome Johnson, pastor of St. Cecelia Parish, made the announcement on Monday that Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of the Metuchen Diocese has accepted a proposal of the parish Finance Council and School Advisory Council that the school be closed.
In addition to the declining enrollment, the high cost of operating the school and needed repairs as factors which prompted the parish to recommend closing the school. Parents who were first told of the recommendation in January were given the chance to develop their own plan to save the school, the diocese said in a statement.
But even after the parents' plan was brought forward and examined by the parish's Finance Council, the recommendation to shutter St. Cecelia's still remained, and Bishop Bootkoski agreed.
Just 10 years ago, St. Cecelia School had 317 students enrolled. But with changing demographics in the area during the last decade and a bad economy that has made school tuition hard to manage for struggling families, enrollment steadily declined.
Today, only 194 students are spread throughout the kindergarten through 8th grade classes.
Father Johnson said in a statement that St. Cecelia Parish “is strongly in favor of Catholic education as is evidenced by our continued financial support.” He said the parish has subsidized the school generously over the years, but did so only by dipping heavily into its savings.
“At this point, our savings have been nearly depleted and the well has run dry,” Father Johnson said.
St. Cecelia's tuition is "already on the high side, and fees are not able to cover the operational costs of such a large school. In addition, the physical plant is in need of costly repairs,” he said.
All of these factors, Father Johnson said, were considered by the finance council and then the School Advisory Council, both of whom recommended closing the school.