Originally posted at 2:48 p.m. Updated at 5:48 p.m.
FRAMINGHAM – The Archdiocese of Boston informed the #SaveMarian group the Board of Trustees’ decision to close Marian High School will stand.
“It is admirable that the Marian High School community made significant efforts to develop a plan for the school to continue with its educational mission going forward. Unfortunately, Marian faces a significant decline in enrollment, a substantial increase in expenses and rapidly diminishing financial resources. With recognition of these circumstances and the absence of means to remedy the shortfalls, the Marian Board made the difficult decision to close the school,” said the Archdiocese of Boston in a statement to Source.
“Private secondary schools and colleges throughout our country are experiencing similar challenges as changing demographics and escalating cost structures weigh heavily on their operations. For many years the Archdiocese of Boston has provided Marian High School’s buildings and facilities at no expense but does not have the resources to meet the school’s substantial and increasing need for funding,” said the Archdiocese in a statement.
“We understand that the Board’s determination to close Marian High School is very difficult for the students, their families, the faculty and staff and all members of the Marian community. The Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Office, which has been working closely with the Marian leadership during this time, will do all that is possible to assist with the transition of the students and their families to new schools.”
Mary Z. Connaughton of Framingham, who has two boys at Marian, has been spearheading the #SaveMarian movement by parents, staff, and students.
Today she issued an email to supporters. In it she wrote: “Yesterday, “Kathy Mears, Superintendent of the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese,” called her to tell her the “Archdiocese’s decision was final and that the board’s decision to close the school would stand.”
“I believe Kathy worked in earnest to support our efforts and supports maintaining a Catholic High School in MetroWest, but such decisions are made at a higher level at the Archdiocese,” wrote Connaughton to parents of Marian High trying to keep the school open this afternoon.
“The Archdiocese was concerned with Marian’s finances. Those concerns included the negative impact the Board’s announcement to close would have on future enrollment,” wrote Connaughton.
“I asked how that could be the case when the plan we presented more than two weeks ago included a major donor that would fund the deficit (with conditions). Our finance plan, prepared by SaveMarian’s finance committee, was detailed and professional. It included a scenario in the event of significantly reduced enrollment. I shared the details of the plan with the Archdiocese 11 days ago,” wrote the mother of two sons, who attend Marian High, a 9-12 co-ed Catholic High School on Union Avenue.
“I asked Kathy if the Archdiocese planned to close the school this year and reopen it in 2019. She said she didn’t know and that there are no plans for the school building,” wrote Connaughton to parents today,
“However, an email that Colm McGarry and I received from the facilities office of the Archdiocese said there were plans for the building that would take up to two years to implement. Somehow, there was a communication breakdown between the departments of the Archdiocese,” Connaughton wroote to parents. “I told Kathy that parents are seething with anger and if the plan was to reopen in a year or two, it would be unlikely parents would enroll their children.”
“I asked how over 100 families could be left out in the cold and told her the situation with St. Joseph’s Prep was a fiasco for the many who were denied acceptance,” said Connaughton to families in her email. “The call ended with Kathy asking for me to have the major donor call her. I said I would try, but realistically all the delays had run the clock out. Sadly, with that, barring a miracle, I believe the dream of Marian has ended, long before its mission was complete. My heart, like your heart, is broken. I pray that at some point our anger will subside. I dread driving past a closed Marian. Each time I dropped my boys off at school in the morning, I felt Rick and I were doing something wonderful for them. We have been proud Marian parents. Our boys were in an environment where they could grow, learn, build character and friendships that would last a lifetime. We are now in a period of great uncertainty.”
Connaughton wrote to parents, who were trying to keep the school open, “I’m hopeful that someday we will focus more on what Marian gave to us and less about what School’s board of trustees and the Archdiocese took from us. Our prayers now turn towards the happier days that lay ahead for our children and the entire Marian community. And there will be happier days. As someone who has been through the cycle of grief, I know that to be true.”