Bayonne — Marist High School may be at risk of closing if unable to raise about $1.5 million by April 24, according to a press release issued on March 21.
The press release cites a combination of low enrollment (76 students for their February 4 deadline), competition from charter schools, the closing of Catholic elementary schools that graduate students to Catholic high schools, and the growing “economic impact” on the school’s families as reasons for their operating deficit and potential closing.
Since 2008, the number of freshmen enrolled declined by half. “Fewer students results in less revenue, creating a deficit that has depleted the school’s reserves,” reads the school’s fundraising page on its website, and added that the school’s founders, the Marist Brothers, “are not in a financial position to assist Marist High School going forward.”
At a meeting held on Tuesday, February 21, Marist High School hosted about 200 parents, teachers, administrators, and alumni to discuss possible solutions to prevent the school from closing. According to attendees at the event, the administration recommended asking parents for advanced down payment for next year’s tuition and asking for $250 donations from all parents, which would be fully refunded if the school closes.
Councilman Gary La Pelusa, a 1984 Marist High School graduate who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he is dismayed to hear that Marist is at risk of closing.
“I would hate to see Marist close because they have such a stellar reputation for their academics. I will try to help them in any way I can,” he said. “I really believe in a Catholic education. I think it’s very important that people have that option.”
La Pelusa said that he hopes the Marist Brothers and the school administration will heed the concerns and suggestions of parents and alumni. La Pelusa suggested that, in addition to Marist’s fundraising campaign, it hold a “paver campaign,” where the school can lay bricks engraved with donor family names some place on Marist’s campus.
“In the weeks ahead,” reads the press release, “school administration and the Archdiocesan Schools Office will work with parents and current Marist students to assist with the transition to other Catholic schools within the Archdiocese. Currently faculty members will be placed on a preferred eligibility list for positions at other Archdiocesan schools.”
For more information or to donate to Marist High School, visit marist.org/savemaristnj.
Marist Head of School, Alice Miesnik, could not be reached for comment at pres time.