Some Chicago Catholic schools closing; Parents told money problems behind decision

Some Catholic schools in the Chicago are area will be closing and one is Our Lady of Victory in the city's Portage Park community, where parents say they were told the decision was made because of money problems.
January 10, 2014 9:25:56 AM PST
Some Catholic schools in the Chicago are area will be closing and one is Our Lady of Victory in the city's Portage Park community, where parents say they were told the decision was made because of money problems.

Our Lady of Victory has been around for over a century and parents say enrollment is actually gone up in recent years. Still, if the school is unable to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, it will not be open next year.

Thursday parents and students had plenty to say about the decision by the archdiocese to put their school on the chopping block.

"All my friends are through here, families through here, neighborhood, everything. It's devastating," said parent Scott Tompkins.

"I really like this school because of my friends and all that," student Rory Tompkins said.

Our Lady of Victory is one of at least a handful of Catholic schools now in danger of closing unless it can find additional financing. The news delivered to parents Wednesday night in a meeting with the superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools, who told them the archdiocese could no longer offer financial support.

"I just think it's terrible," said grandparent Christine Gailard. "And we've come up so much and done so much in the last year with the new principal. It's just heartbreaking."

The archdiocese has declined to name the other schools on the list but earlier this week parents at Santa Maria del Popolo School in Mundelein were given similar news.

That school has 85 students and has been open for more than 60 years.

"My daughter's 24. She's devastated," Scott Tompkins said. "This was a great school for her. My son who's 21, same thing. Great school."

Adding to the uncertainty is the timing of the announcement, which comes nearly a month after the CPS selective enrollment application deadline passed.

"It's going to be devastating for me because there are other nice schools, magnet schools, in the neighborhood," said parent Jasmeka Boyd. "But because I wasn't prepared for the school to closing, I don't know what I'm going to have to do."

Cardinal George says in recent years the archdiocese has spent about $30 million a year subsidizing schools and that's not sustainable.

"I think it's just terrible, and we've come up so much and done so much in the last year with the new principal. It's just heartbreaking," he said.

The archdiocese did not return calls for comment.

The principal of Our Lady of Victory said the deficit comes out to around $400,000. She said she is confident they can find some way to close that gap.

The archdiocese has set a deadline of January 26 to come up with a finance plan.


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