Brooklyn Diocese to close two Catholic elementary schools due to falling enrollment and poor financials

bishop of brooklyn diocese at catholic school
The Diocese of Brooklyn will close two Catholic elementary schools at the end of the school year.
File photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Facing low enrollment and a dire financial situation, two Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn will close permanently at the end of the current school year, the Diocese of Brooklyn announced on Thursday.

Salve Regina Catholic Academy in East New York and St. Catherine of Genoa-St. Therese of Lisieux school in Flatbush, which both serve students from pre-K to eighth grade, will shutter at the end of June. A third Catholic school, St. Matthias Catholic Academy in Queens, will also close. 

salve regina catholic school
Salve Regina Catholic Academy in East New York is one of the schools that will close this year.P hoto courtesy of Google Maps

“The difficult decisions to close these schools were reached after a thorough review of the pattern of student enrollment and the financial condition of each academy,” said Deacon Kevin McCormack, superintendent of schools, in a statement. 

Neither school was able to reach fundraising and enrollment goals set this spring, their boards of trustees wrote in a pair of letters posted online, despite “countless hours of work” from staff and volunteers. 

Catholic school enrollment has been falling for 25 years, the trustees wrote, and the cost of running a Catholic school has been steadily rising — as has “debt to outside agencies.”

For the 2023-24 school year, tuition for St. Catherine-St. Therese started at $5,240 for Catholic students, and $6,020 for non-Catholic students. At Salve Regina, tuition for the 2021-22 school year — the most recent year for which information is available online — started at $4,250, plus roughly $350 for registration and other fees. 

st. catherine-st. therese catholic school
Only 122 students are registered to attend St. Catherine-St. Therese next fall. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Enrollment at Salve Regina has fallen by more than one-third over the past decade, according to the Board’s letter. The school had 565 students in 2014, and just 193 in the 2023-24 school year. Only 143 students have registered for next fall, well short of the school’s goal of 225.

St. Catherine-St. Therese, meanwhile, had 319 students in 2014 and 151 in 2023, with just 122 registered for next fall. 

“The low number of registrants has remained despite all our efforts (parents, alumni, and volunteers alike) to increase enrollment,” the letters read. “We recognize and are grateful for the efforts so many have made to keep our school afloat.”

Students will be able to continue their education at other local Catholic schools, per the Diocese of Brooklyn. The diocese created a webpage to help students and parents find nearby schools and open houses. Any payments made for the 2024-25 school year are set to be refunded, and new registration fees will be waived, according to the website.

“These three schools, in the midst of this most difficult time, will focus on celebrating their students and preparing them for the next chapter of their education,” McCormack said. 

catholic school superindendent
Deacon Kevin McCormack, Superintendent of Schools, (pictured) said the schools will focus on celebrating and preparing their students. File photo courtesy of Office of the Superintendent/Catholic School Support Services

The news came less than three months after the diocese announced the impending closure of the 169-year-old Visitation Academy in Bay Ridge. Only two nuns remain at the Visitation Monastery, and the Visitation Sisters of Brooklyn told families in February that they have decided to “leave our home here and end our ministry and sponsorship of Visitation Academy.”

Though enrollment at Catholic schools nationwide spiked in 2023 after years of decline, New York City catholic schools have been struggling for years. The Diocese of Brooklyn was forced to close six schools in Brooklyn and Queens in 2020, and the Archdiocese of New York closed 12 schools in the city in 2023 and made cuts at several more.