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St. Bernadette’s Academy Slated to Close at End of School Year

Parents were told Friday the Catholic academy would be among six schools selected by the Archdiocese of Chicago to shutter in a cost-saving measure.

St. Bernadette Academy in Evergreen Park | Credit: File Photo
St. Bernadette Academy in Evergreen Park | Credit: File Photo

Parents at St. Bernadette’s Academy learned late Friday that their beloved school will close down for good at the end of this school year.

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced on Thursday that six area schools would shut down because of a need to cut $10 million from the budget.

Official word of the Evergreen Park catholic academy closing came to parents and teachers from Archdiocese officials Friday night inside the Francisco Avenue building.

While a diverse school and one that performs well academically, St. Bernadette’s Academy's enrollment had been dwindling for years, said John Dwyer, a Warrior parent and former school board member.

Dwyer and his wife, Eilieen, ushered two children through the academy and have a third in eighth grade who be a part of the final graduating class in May.

"Our kids have done so much in high school and college because of what they had done here (at St. Bernadette’s Academy)," John Dwyer told Patch after the meeting.

The news of the closing is sad but not entirely unexpected, Dwyer said. St. Bernadette’s Academy's current enrollment is about 100 students.

Last year, the Archdiocese developed a plan to stabilize its schools after contributing more than $100 million to operate the school system, according to the Archdiocese's office. Many schools within Archdiocese had shrinking populations of children and had building that did not meet current standards.

A total of 775 children will be affected by the closing of six schools that did not meet the Archdiocese's criteria of sustainability and growth. All six are expected to close at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Tuition discounts are being offered to the families if they choose to transfer to a nearby Catholic school.

"We are committed to providing a high-quality educational and faith formation experience to every child in our schools, said Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago, in a media release.

The height of St. Bernadette’s Academy's enrollment occurred in 1965, when more than 1,500 students attended the school.

Did you attend St. Bernadette’s Catholic Academy? Share how much you love the school in the comments or post a longer story about your time there in Evergreen Park's Boards.

Mark January 10, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Sad to say, but I think you will see more and more of these closings. Back in the day, if you were Catholic, there was no question of where you went to school, you would go to Catholic school. But that's no longer the case. People either can't afford to send their children to a Catholic school, or don't find the value in them, or just don't practice the religion. I am Catholic and I have to send my kid to Religious Ed cause I just can't afford it. Many others do the same. In my parish, the Religious Ed enrollment is increasing, and the school enrollment is flat.
Nancy Prior January 10, 2014 at 10:42 PM
What a shame St. Bernadette's is closing! It was/ is a great school and a beautiful church. My entire family went to school there - I graduated in 1974. Makes me cry - Evergreen Park will not be the same without St. Bernadette's school.
Roy Keane January 11, 2014 at 12:57 AM
Not much of a conspiracy theorist but If the property gets sold to LCMH, I smell a rat.
David O January 11, 2014 at 01:43 AM
Everyone knew sooner or later this would happen. If you really think about it, the money you spent on your kids going to Catholic schools (Grammar or High school) that pays for most of there college education. People can not afford that in today's economy. Besides if your child needed special help in various subject matters the Catholic schools could not handle it. Your child had to go to a public school for those classes. I can say this with confidences because my cousin was a teacher in the Catholic school system for over 20 years. Think about, lets say you have 4 children going to this type of school at 6,000 a year. $24,000 a year plus the cost of uniforms, books, contributions that are expect also, times 8 years that is $192,000 just for Grammar school. You still need to get through High School and College. We all know that the classrooms are really not up to date, the pay for the teachers are on the low side. Plus the teachers only have to have a Bachelors Degree to be accepted, and that is not even in the subject they teach. So were is all that money going, if you think on how many kids are in the system. It might have been the way to go in our parents generation, but for our generation or the next ones in line. they need to think about this. Your faith/religion should have nothing to do with your education or what you expect from the people educating your children. They need to be accountable.
BertH January 11, 2014 at 09:41 AM
So true David
Suzy January 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM
St. Bernadette and other underpopulated Catholic schools should reinvent themselves as charter schools. Charters operate as independent/private schools but receive public money for each student enrolled. They create their own school boards and self-govern rather than reporting into districts. They are not tied to school district educational operational structures, standards, or procedures. In other words, charter schools are publicly funded private schools. Chicago has had charter schools for years, but now charters are popping up like dandelions in the city and especially in the shadow of recently closed schools. All this is being done with what appears to be wholehearted public support. So why can't St. Bernadette and other quality schools benefit from that model, too?
Nana January 11, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Charter schools would not allow prayer in class, defeating the intent of teaching the children about the religion.
Suzy January 11, 2014 at 11:44 AM
Maybe, but character education could be incorporated into the curriculum, and this is the foundation of all private faith-based schools. A few modifications could be made to turn a closing a private school that was a cornerstone of the community into a high achieving charter supported by public money. Look around you. It's already happening.
Franklin Jobs January 11, 2014 at 03:44 PM
St John Fisher is next.
Eliza January 11, 2014 at 04:29 PM
Turning a closed school into a charter is not exactly as easy at it sounds. While charter schools are "privately" ran they are still performance based. Teaching to data driven instruction leaves very little room for character education and may come as quite a shock for the students and parents. Many parents choose to send a child to a private school to avoid having to their students taught solely to perform well on the ISAT or PARCC test. While I am aware that private schools take achievement tests each year, the emphasis to do well is not as high as a public or charter school. Many times large corporations, who do not truly understand education, open schools with a cookie cutter image of how a school should be run, how a teacher should teach, and how a student should learn. I am a product of private, Catholic education and have taught in both public and charter schools. Public and charter schools are very, very similar and are very rarely the superman people were led to expect.

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