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Last updated: August 23. 2013 1:27PM - 36 Views

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WAPAKONETA — While parishioners may want it to remain, there’s still a possibility that St. Joseph Catholic School will close.No decision had been made regarding the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, and it is unclear when it might happen.“The bottom line is what is a Catholic education worth to everyone,” Principal Ron Fahncke said Monday. “And to some of our good parents, it is worth whatever it takes.”School and church officials have been looking at the future of the school, which has been seeing a declining enrollment. Along with closing, anther option is cutting back to a kindergarten through fourth-grade building.There are currently 95 pupils, compared to about 200 four years ago. Fahncke said he believes the decline is a combination of things, including family finances and the uncertainty of the school’s future.“The question is when does the school become not viable,” he said. “At what point does it become not feasible to turn on the lights and start the heat up every morning.”St. Joseph has been working with a marketing initiative through the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in an attempt to increase enrollment. Several Catholic schools in the northern part of the archdiocese are part of the program.About 200 parishioners met Sunday to discuss the school’s future. Fahncke called the meeting positive with people expressing how much they value Catholic education.“The general consensus was that we want to continue to have a Catholic education available for our children and grandchildren,” he said. “We have a wonderful group of parents who really have their heart and soul into this school and are striving to make sure Catholic education is here for many years to come.”Fahncke said the information from the meeting will be seriously considered by church leaders responsible for further looking at this issue.Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said to close or change the school, the parish would have to submit a plan to the archdiocese’s north region commission on education. The commission would then make its recommendation to the archbishop. The commission does not meet again until February.Andriacco said there are 95 elementary schools within the archdiocese, compared to 111 five years ago. He said there are Catholic schools closing or changing its models throughout the country. In 2006, there were 6,386 Catholic elementary schools in the country, compared to 10,501 in 1960.Andriacco said the archdiocese does not want to close any school, but it also does not want to force parishes to operate schools with financial problems.“However much it may pain the archbishop to close a school, he would be in the position of telling a parish that they have to maintain a school they cannot afford, and he does not want to be in a position of doing that,” he said.St. Joseph Catholic School has been in existence since the 1850s. The current school off state Route 501 was built in 1959 as a high school. The high school closed in 1974 and the elementary school moved in.



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