St. Lawrence closing: some thoughts

Former teacher wonders if school closure was a set-up job
Students arrive at St. Lawrence Academy high school in Santa Clara on Thursday morning. The Diocese of San Jose will shut down the school at the end of the school year. (Sharon Noguchi)

Students arrive at St. Lawrence Academy high school in Santa Clara on January 28. The Diocese of San Jose will shut down the school at the end of the school year. (Sharon Noguchi/San Jose Mercury News)

The following comes from a February 3 Attitude of Gratitude blog post by Kevin Carrol, a former teacher at St. Lawrence Academy. To view CalCatholic’s February 4 post on the school closure, click here.

Fact: In 2012, the principal of Saint Lawrence Elementary & Middle School stated that he wanted Saint Lawrence Academy to close or move because he needed the Academy building to grow the Middle School and get middle school students out of aging portable classrooms.  [Meeting with Partners in Mission consultant]

Fact: The bishop of the Diocese of San José appointed that principal to a new position as president of Saint Lawrence Academy.

Fact: The bishop gave the new Saint Lawrence Academy administrative team three years to turn things around and make Saint Lawrence Academy sustainable.

Fact: The new president of the school was quite successful in fund-raising efforts, surpassing the fund-raising totals of previous years.

Fact: Thousands of dollars were spent in the past two years to upgrade the Saint Lawrence Academy facilities, including: renovation to the main office, a new roof on the Academy building, newly-renovated weight room with new equipment, updated technology (including smart boards) in most of the Academy classrooms, installation of a new lighting/sound system for the Little Theater, a new school bell and clock system, a new school sign outside the front of the building, installation of a canopy covering the outside seating area in the pavilion adjacent to the pool, creation of a new school logo, creation of a new school mascot, and improvements to the Academy faculty lounge.

Fact: The bishop of the Diocese of San José announced, on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, that Saint Lawrence Academy would close permanently effective June 2016.

Speculation: It seems to be more than just coincidental that the closing of Saint Lawrence Academy will enable Saint Lawrence Middle School to be moved into a facility with a newly-renovated main office, a new roof, a new weight room, and into classrooms equipped with up-to-date technology. Middle School students will also benefit from the new lighting/sound system in the Little Theater, the new bell/clock system, and the new canopy over the outside seating area in the pavilion. Middle School faculty will enjoy the benefits of the improvements made to the faculty lounge.

Speculation: The decision to close Saint Lawrence Academy in June 2016 was made in the Spring of 2013, with the understanding that the Middle School would be moved into the upgraded Academy facility beginning in the Fall of 2016.

The following comes from a February 17 email from ‘Joe Catholic’ regrading the St. Lawrence Academy closure:

Note the statistics in the San Jose Mercury News article, which are what we have been hearing from the diocese:

227 students
$225,000 deficit = $1,000/student.

SLA’s tuition is $16,400, much less than the $18,000+ the other Catholic high schools charge.  The local Protestant schools are even more expensive.

The debt, be it $1.1 or 2 million, over 30 years could be financed at less than $1,000/student/year.

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  1. All this hassle that could have been avoided by a $1,000 tuition increase? Good grief!

  2. Spin, spin, spin, to paraphrase an old rock song.
    It would be interesting to see full financial statements to tell if the Academy was operating on a break-even basis. The comment about the debt is relevant only if the Academy can live without additional debt in the loan amortization period so the loan is, in fact, paid off at some point. Finally, how big was the total amount of financial aid [tuition reductions] provided to the student body as a whole. I suspect not everybody paid full fare.

  3. Linda Maria says:

    It used to be, in pre-Vatican II days, that religious orders would open and operate very good Catholic schools, with minimal expenses, anywhere they desired to go. The educations that were given, were usually excellent, much better than American public schools! Now, Vatican II has nearly killed the Church, and all it once had to offer!

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.