MANCHESTER, Mo. — Five years after St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson visited John F. Kennedy Catholic High School to launch an effort to increase enrollment at the diocese’s Catholic schools, officials have decided to close the high school because enrollment continues to decline.
Carlson said in a letter to parents Friday that the school in Manchester will close at the end of the school year “in spite of the efforts of many to improve enrollment and reduce the increases in the cost of education.”
Enrollment at many area Catholic schools has dropped significantly in recent years, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Kennedy Catholic High’s freshman enrollment this year was fewer than 50 students, half what it was two years ago, and total enrollment was about 280 students. The school has 30 faculty members.
In 2011, Carlson unveiled the “Alive in Christ” campaign, with a goal of filling about 1,800 vacant seats in the region’s Catholic schools. The plan was to use more revenue for scholarships and push for state tax credits for tuition-paying parents.
Despite those efforts, “there has been a diminishing number of Catholic families in this area of the archdiocese seeking a Catholic high school education for their children,” Carlson’s letter said.
Murray Wehking, who graduated from Kennedy in 1977, said he and his wife had to break the news to their son, a sophomore at Kennedy.
“It’s a sad day,” Wehking said. “It does make it sadder that we’ll have to do something to find another school for our son.”
Kennedy opened in 1968 and is the only co-ed college prep Catholic high school in west St. Louis County. It’s among 26 Catholic high schools in the 11-county St. Louis Archdiocese.
All current scholarship grants and tuition arrangements will be honored at any of the schools owned by the archdiocese. And Kennedy students who transfer to Catholic schools will receive a $500 transition credit to cover student fees.