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St. Rose Catholic School Closing: What Next for Teachers?

Posted at: 02/18/2013 8:50 AM
Updated at: 02/18/2013 10:52 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

It has been calling the Proctor community home for nearly 90 years, but the St. Rose School is shutting down at the end of the year.

The Diocese of Duluth announced the decision Monday morning after Bishop Paul D. Sirba accepted the recommendation.

The announcement that the school will be closing means more than a dozen teachers and staff are beginning the search for another job.

Shelly Vanneste, a Pre-Kindergarten teacher, prepared for a new week as Eyewitness News visited St. Rose Monday afternoon. "We've been talking about health and taking care of ourselves...this week we are going to work on dental hygiene," she said.

It is Vanneste's first year at St. Rose, and she just recently learned that it will be her last. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do to be honest."

According to the Diocese of Duluth, St. Rose is closing because of a drop in student enrollment. Enrollment has dropped to 42, from 80 in 2000.

School Pastor, Father Joel Hastings, said the number of households attending St. Rose Catholic Church, which runs the school, has also dropped. He said membership has dropped to 275 households, from 550 in 2000.

Father Hastings said St. Rose School operates on money from tuition payments, fundraisers, and giving from families that attend St. Rose Catholic Church. But too few students and dropping membership means there isn’t enough money to keep the school going. "We simply do not have the base of support anymore to continue to subsidize, financially, the school and to truly underwrite its operations," he said.

St. Rose is one of 12 schools in the Diocese of Duluth. The Diocese said it's the first to close since 2003 when St. Leo's in Hibbing merged with Assumption School. However, the Diocese said the decision to merge was not related to enrollment numbers.

Father Hastings said teachers will get help finding new work if they want it. "We will do everything we can to help them to continue their teaching career wherever they might desire to do so."

Vanneste said she has been weighing her options. "[I] may be going back to school and finishing a master's degree...I'm financially able to stay home if I have to. I don't have to find a job."

St. Rose Catholic Church will remain in the building and the classrooms will serve as space for Sunday School and religion classes, Father Hastings said.