OAKLAND, Calif. - More than 600 elementary school children and their parents got some bad news Thursday. The Oakland Catholic Diocese has decided to close five schools at the end of the year.
EXCLUSIVE: Oakland Catholic Diocese closes 5 schools
The diocese wants to revamp its elementary school system. They say staff was spread way too thin, enrollment numbers were low, and things just weren't working well. That's why they want to roll out a new model.
Parents met at St. Jarlath Catholic School for a closed-door meeting Thursday where they learned that their children's beloved school is one of five set to close.
"I was surprised, and I'm sad too," said Efrata Rezene, a student.
Many students went home with a letter explaining the reasons for the closures, which include low attendance levels and increasing operational deficits.
The diocese spokesperson insists, consolidating the current 12 elementary schools into seven will allow for a network model with a board of directors that will be better funded and have more resources.
"We believe it will be a success," said Helen Osman of the Diocese of Oakland. "We've not seen any diocese where it's failed that they have all been successful."
Parents and students alike are worried. "I feel kind of sad," said student Luis Maltez. "Because I don't know if my friends are going to the school that I will go to next year."
"I'm saddened," said Chandra Cooper, a parent. "Because this school has really turned my child around. She has become a straight A student."
The closures will impact 640 students and 90 staffers. Teachers will be given priority consideration at the other schools within the diocese.