EXCLUSIVE: Oakland Catholic Diocese closes 5 affordable schools

Thursday, January 19, 2017 09:40PM
The Oakland Catholic Dioceses announced the closing of five beloved and affordable Catholic schools in the North Oakland area. Parents, teachers and students are reacting to the abrupt change.


OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland Catholic Diocese officially announced the closing of five of its schools. ABC7 News obtained a confidential letter addressed to principals, teachers and staff of those schools Thursday morning. Parents were notified Thursday afternoon.

One parent was handed an unexpected letter while picking up his daughter from St. Martin De Porras in Oakland. It states that the Oakland Catholic Diocese will be closing the school at the end of the year.

Parents and grandparents were being notified as they picked up their children at St. Jerome Catholic School in El Cerrito. "it's one of the few affordable schools," said Georgette Bynum. "It's a huge loss."

St. Jarlath Catholic School in Oakland decided to tell parents in a meeting scheduled for Thursday evening.

"Wow, I'm really surprised," said Burt Avitia, a parent. "We'll get through it somehow, someway. It's a great school."

In a confidential letter, the diocese cited the reasons for closing the schools: Low enrollment and increasing operational deficit.

They say all options have been exhausted.

The five schools charge between $4,000 and $8,000 a year in tuition. That's low compared to other private schools.

At St. Martin De Porres, over 95 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid.

Angelica Fonseca says schools like these are an affordable option for many. "Good values, good morals, respect and love for one another," she said.

Veronica Walker lives across the street from the school. She says it has been there long before she was born and is loved by the North Oakland community. "My concern is, what will go there after the school leaves."

Arnold Fulsaas attended one of the five closing schools. "I hope they can figure out how to save this school, because it's a beautiful school," he said. "And there aren't too many good Catholic schools left here in Oakland."

Teachers will be given priority considerations at the other schools within the diocese.
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