St. Mary's Catholic in San Francisco to suspend elementary school in June

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One of the oldest Catholic schools in the Bay Area says it will suspend its elementary school operations in June. (KGO-TV )

One of the oldest Catholic schools in the Bay Area says it will suspend its elementary school operations in June.

St. Mary's school told parents in an email Monday night low enrollment and lack of money are driving the decision.

Parents say it is a big loss for the community, especially because the school serves a bilingual population. School administrators calling it a suspension not a closure, suggesting that the school could be day be re-opened.

Since 1921 St. Mary's School has offered a bilingual education.

Sam Stephens' 5-year-old daughter Charlotte is in pre-school. "Our plan was to keep her here until eighth grade," Stephens said. "It's saddening that there's not going to be this staple that's been in the Chinese community here for years.

Those plans interrupted by a disheartening announcement. The Catholic kindergarten through eighth grade elementary school will suspend operations in June. The decision comes down to low enrollment and lack of finances. Approximately 80 students, eight faculty members and six support staff will be impacted.

"I feel for those parents of those kids that are sixth, seventh grade," Stephens said.

The preschool will continue operating. In a few years, the Parish says it will consider reopening the kindergarten or other grades if there is sufficient demand.

Florence Chinn, better known by classmates as "Lookie," was on St. Mary's Drum and Bell Corp for 70 years from 1940 to 2010.

"It's a big loss," said former student Florence Chinn.

The school recently presented her with a piece of her old uniform.

"Alumni, people try to help them out by donating and they still can't make it," Chinn said.

"How much did we reach out to the community here in San Francisco all these tech companies," Stephens said. It's a concern Stephens says he'll share at a public meeting Tuesday night.

The Department of Catholic Schools has said it plans to help parents find alternatives.
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