The Pastor of St. Mark Catholic Parish in Boynton Beach, Reverend Richard Florek, OFM Conv., announced today that its parish school, St. Mark Catholic School, will not be able to operate after the present 2012-2013 School Year. St. Mark is a pre-k through 8th grade school with currently only 126 students enrolled for next year. The enrollment for 2012-2013 year was 225, showing a drop of nearly 100 students for next year.
In a letter to parents, Father Florek stated that student enrollment for the 2013-2014 School Year had dropped significantly within the last few weeks and “with great sadness” Father Florek recommended to Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach, to close the school. After much consideration and regret, Bishop Barbarito accepted the recommendation.
“St. Mark Catholic School originally had 166 students registered to come back for classes next year. In the past few weeks, that number dropped significantly as students transferred to other schools, including new local charter schools. Despite our best efforts to increase enrollment, the decrease in students has created a most challenging financial situation and would create a financial burden on parents and the parish. This has been a very difficult decision to make. We are grateful for the support St. Mark School has received from parents, faculty, parishioners and the Diocese of Palm Beach,” said Father Florek
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Palm Beach stated the diocese supported the school and worked with school administration to do everything possible to avoid the closing of the school.
“The Diocese of Palm Beach’s Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Finance worked with St. Mark Catholic School to adjust their budget based upon its enrollment of 166 students, and again as enrollment dropped, so the school would be able to remain open. Now, the diocese will provide support to students and families to help students enroll at other Catholic schools in the surrounding area. We will also work with school faculty and staff to help them apply for other positions available in the diocese,” said Dianne Laubert, Director of Communications.
Another way in which the Diocese of Palm Beach will assist families is by working on a plan to help students who will be 8th graders to stay together and attend the same school next year.
“Many of our 8th graders have been at St. Mark Catholic School for a long time and they are a close knit group. We want to help them to stay together and are looking into a viable solution for those students to attend another one of our Catholic schools. Our schools have strong academic programs and our hope is that parents will continue to provide their children with a Catholic education,” said Gary Gelo, Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Palm Beach.
The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach encompasses the five counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. Comprised of 280,000 Catholics in 53 parishes and missions, the Diocese also serves the faithful community through its schools. There are more than 6,000 students and 500 teachers in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Palm Beach.