Faced with dwindling enrollment, St. Paul School in Wellesley will not reopen this fall.
The Catholic school for K-8 students, which has operated for the past 60 years, made the announcement on its website and Facebook page July 27. Just 32 students had enrolled for the fall semester.
“Over the past several years, St. Paul School has faced a steady decline in enrollment,’’ the announcement said. “An attempt to secure solid commitments from parents for the upcoming school year was not sufficient. Sadly, it is not possible for St. Paul School to open in September. We are sorry to share such difficult news, and appreciate the efforts of all who did their best to keep the school open.’’
The announcement listed the names of other Catholic schools in the region accepting new students, including Saint John School in Wellesley.
School officials declined to comment and referred all questions to the Archdiocese of Boston. Terrence Donilon, secretary of communications and public affairs for the Archdiocese, issued a statement that said students will be welcome at Saint John’s and other Catholic schools that have space. The Catholic Schools Office will work with the 15 staff members impacted.
“This has been a painful and difficult decision,’’ the statement said. “Understanding that this will impact our students, families and staff, we will to work to minimize any disruption by providing for as seamless a transition as possible for all impacted. Closing a school is never easy. But in light of the very low enrollment and the inability to make the school viable we have been left with no other decision.’’
Southborough resident Jill Smith, whose daughter was set to enter fifth grade at St. Paul in the fall, said she knew enrollment was declining but was still surprised by the news.
“It’s a huge loss,’’ she said. “I can’t express how committed the teachers and parents there were.’’
Smith said her daughter will likely attend Saint John’s in the fall.
“Saint John’s School has really been great about reaching out to us,’’ Smith said. “They are going out of their way to welcome us and encourage us to go to their school.’’
Smith said she suspects that St. Paul’s has trouble attracting students because it is located in an affluent community with highly-regarded public schools. She said that some parents were turned off because the class sizes, some with 12 students, were too small.
The St. Paul School closure comes shortly after the parishes at Saint John’s and St. Paul’s formed a new collaborative within the diocese, however the events were not related, Donilon said.
The idea of the collaborative is to create teams lead by one pastor to oversee up to three parishes, he said. Each collaborative develops its own pastoral plan but the parishes maintain their own identity, separate finances and worship sites. He said the effort will guide the Archdiocese in growing the church, better serving parishioners and supporting priests.
He said Saint John and St. Paul are separate entities overseen by one pastor working with a pastoral team.
“This is not a plan to close parishes or churches,’’ he said. “It’s about evangelization.’’
Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at email@example.com.