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st. matthew akron

Catholic school in Akron, Ohio, is closing

Feb. 6, 2020
Church officials say they could not keep subsidizing operations at St. Matthew Parish Elementary School.

St. Matthew Parish Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, will close after this academic year, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland says.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports the diocese determined that it could not continue to subsidize operations at the school.

“The decision to close came after a thorough review of demographic, enrollment, competitive and financial trends affecting the school, and after proper consultation with parishioners, the parish and finance councils and the Secretariat for Education of the Diocese of Cleveland,” the diocese said in a statement.

The school opened in 1949. This year, it has 142 students and about 20 staff.

“It’s a very difficult moment,” St. Matthew Parish Pastor Michael Williamson says.

The decision to close the school was a long time coming, he says, and was made after years of discussion on how to stay open.

In a 10-year span in the United States from the 2007-2008 school year to 2017-18, Catholic school enrollment dropped by about 400,000 students, according to the National Catholic Education Association.

“I don’t feel at all that this is something exclusive to St. Matthew,” Williamson says.

Although enrollment was low — ideally, the school would have needed another 50 to 75 students — the fact that most students were not paying full tuition was the larger financial burden, he says.

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