The Immaculate Heart of Mary School has closed, according to a statement from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church Parish and the Diocese of Lafayette.
The statement was released on the Diocese of Lafayette website and cited inadequate resources and an insufficient number of families paying tuition for their children to attend the school.
The school has educated thousands of children from around the parish and surrounding community since its inception in 1934 but has recently faced several challenges, including low enrollment, poor academic performance, and inadequate finances. While the school began accepting scholarship and voucher funds from the state in 2012, in addition to its many scholarship programs, these have not made up for the dwindling number of families paying tuition to the school.
The statement also cites numerous town hall meetings and consultations held since the beginning of the year to try to increase enrollment and stabilize the school's finances. None of those efforts proved fruitful.
The statement says that only 60 children were registered for the 2016-2017 school year, far short of the 150-160 students needed to keep the school going. Officials also cited low test scores and a deficit of more than $250,000 as contributing factors for the decision to close the school.
“Immaculate Heart of Mary School at this time falls short of the essential elements necessary for a healthy Catholic school: strong Catholic identity, academic excellence, and financial viability,” the statement reads.
It is with great regret that Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, and with permission of Bishop Deshotel, informs the community of the closing of Immaculate Heart of Mary School. The school does not have adequate resources to sustain its operations despite being subsidized by the Diocese and the Parish. Though the decision is very painful, available facts and numbers call everyone to be prudent and focus on the best interests of our children. Pastors and principals of neighboring schools have agreed to give special consideration towards the acceptance of Immaculate Heart of Mary students for the fall. The Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Lafayette will likewise do its best to help teachers and staff find employment in other Catholic institutions.
At this moment in history we must express gratitude to all who have been a part of Immaculate Heart of Mary School for the past 80+ years particularly the Divine Word Missionaries, Holy Family Sisters, and all the lay people who have given of themselves. The value of their work has been written with the indelible ink of God's grace.
Read the full statement here.