Reporting Beth Germano
WEST HARWICH (CBS) – Students who attend a West Harwich Catholic elementary school will be forced to find a new school next fall. The Fall River Diocese says Holy Trinity will have to shut its doors due to mounting bills and low enrollment, despite an offer from an anonymous benefactor of $200,000 that could have kept the school running at least another two years.
“They came in with no warning and just closed it,” said Debbie Greiner whose five children have either graduated, or are now attending the school.
Doors will shut at the end of the year for the Cape’s oldest Catholic school, forcing parents to the St. Pius X School in South Yarmouth, or local public schools.
“We came to it for its family environment,” said parent Emily Pazakis. “Feels like somebody who doesn’t know us is coming in and shutting down our family and splitting us up.”
Parents say they wanted a chance to save the school, but the Diocese says with only 66 students, and a deficit near a half million dollars, not even the generosity of a donor would help the situation. “With bills you get a shut-off notice. We didn’t get a shut-off notice, they just said you’ve run a deficit and you don’t have kids, that’s it,” said Pazakis.
Fourth grade teacher Andrew Ellis says it’s left the school disheartened. “We were told we’re being closed because we’re insolvent. If we get money to keep the school open it should stay open,” he said.
The Diocese says it doesn’t see the student population growing in the future because of an aging demographic. “The financial problems of the school are related directly to the enrollment issue,” the Diocese said in a statement.
Parents say they would have considered a tuition increase, and the donor hoped the school would be able to recruit enough students and raise more money to become financial viable. “If parents had known where the finances were they would have been more on board,” said parent Debbie Greiner.