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St. Cecelia's School in Iselin to Close at the End of the School Year

Declining enrollment and changing demographics are cited by the Metuchen Diocese in the decision to shutter the school.

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.

Loretta February 29, 2012 at 06:35 PM
My heart is breaking, but I understand the realty of the economy we're currently living. The most treasured years of this life were spent in St Cecelia's. As far as I know we were the first class to go all the way through and graduate in 1959. Loretta DiFino
Michael W. Oliver February 29, 2012 at 11:03 PM
In 1959 we had about 120 kids in two 8th Grade classes with Sisters Adrian and Fidelis. Today, the article says there's 194 kids in the whole school. I remember several years ago ca.1989 I was at Mass with my folks. It was a Holy Day of obligation. I can't remember which one but school was in session and the kids were at mass. One of the good sisters was exhorting the kids to open their hymnals and get to singing. I smiled to myself thinking that in 30 years' time not much had changed other than all the "Starter" jackets on the boys. This is sad news indeed. Mike Oliver, SCS Class of 1959
George Smith July 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Hard to keep a school open when the demographics have changed so dramatically in Iselin over the years.
George Smith July 16, 2012 at 08:33 PM
The school is the latest domino to fall in Iselin. The Church will be next regardless of what Rev. Johnson has to say. The parish has not fared well under his stewardship. Rectory sold, school closed, convent for sale. Think about it.
7 out August 11, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Wonder if it is being sold to pay for pedophiles in the church?
Epurc7 November 27, 2012 at 11:40 PM
St Cecelia's was the heart of Iselin. Times they are a changing. Great education still proud that I am a graduate of St Cecelia's Class of 1962. Let's not forget the Fair!!! Highlight of the summer. Time of innocence.
Michael von Graevenitz June 05, 2013 at 02:50 AM
My uncle Rudolph von Graevenitz went to St. Cecilia's . Even though he lives abroad, he always said that his favorite memories of living here were his years there.
Jerry July 16, 2013 at 10:36 PM
I only stumbled into this page today after remembering the Iselin fair yesterday. As an alum of the school and former resident of the town till I was 18 (40 years ago :( ) I am saddened to hear of the end of the fair and the closing of the school.

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