St. Helen’s Catholic School in Fresno, Calif., will close its doors at the end of the school year after 60 years.
The Fresno Bee reports that the school has faced declining enrollment and has struggled over the last seven years to cover the cost of employee benefits. St. Helen’s can accommodate 325 students, but this year’s enrollment stands at 202 students.
The school incurred a debt of about $850,000 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, says Mona Faulkner, superintendent of Catholic schools.
In December 2015, Bishop Armando Ochoa forgave $350,000 of the amount to help the school, but “they are unable to pay their benefits again, and so that number has risen to almost $600,000,” Faulkner says.
The school held monthly fundraisers in the fall to help cover the portion of the school budget that tuition did not pay for. The next fundraiser was scheduled for this month.
Students will be able to transfer to one of three remaining Fresno-area Catholic elementary schools: Our Lady of Victory in central Fresno, St. Anthony’s in northwest Fresno or Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Clovis.
St. Helen’s opened in September 1953.