GRANGER, Iowa -- After 87 years, a metro Catholic school will shut its doors. Assumption Catholic School in Granger will close after this school year.
On Monday, the school sent a letter to parents, students and staff announcing the closure.
“They are going through the same emotions of the grief of losing someone, but this time, it’s their school,” said Principal Cindy Pezzetti.
The decision to close the pre-kindergarten through Eighth-grade school came after several months of discussion due to a steady decline in enrollment and financial issues.
“It’s like a sanctuary, literally and figuratively for the community,” said alumnus Ben Feick.
Feick graduated middle school from Assumption 15 years ago when the enrollment was at its peak of 120 students. Currently enrollment stands at 62.
“It’s just sad to see that it’s not continuing the way I remember it was," Feick said.
As for the financial issues, the school did not want to raise the $2,800 tuition rate in fear it would become too much of a financial burden to students and their parents.
Instead, the Assumption Catholic Church is helping to pay about half of the school's expenses but even with the extra help, the school projects would sink into more than $100,000 in debt this school year alone.
“The cost has increased over the years in order to deliver the education and when enrollment drops that causes a budget problem,” said Pezzetti. “We came to the decision that we could just not stay open any longer.”
The Diocese of Des Moines is calling for more state private funding to help keep the Catholic education alive.
“They would take the state portion which is currently $6,500 [for public schools] then put it into the bank account of the parents who could take it for homeschooling and private schooling,” said Bishop Richard Pates. “They could take it across the board to be able to utilize it for that individual person.”
Until May arrives, students and staff are embracing the final two months of school.
“We are going to be together until the very last day of school this year and make the rest of this year very very special,” Pezzeti said.
Teachers will receive their full salary and benefits through the school year. The school is reaching out to other Catholic schools in the metro to see if there are openings for both teachers and students for next year.