NEWINGTON -- Parents were told Wednesday night that they'd need to find a new school for their children to attend this year, just two weeks before the new school year was set to begin.
The Saint Mary School in Newington will officially close, effective immediately, due to financial constraints that were discovered during a review of the school's finances by a new administrator. Officials also say attendance has fallen by nearly 50 percent in just 10 years, and the school was only set to be filled to 1/3 capacity this year.
"Saint Mary School would have run out of capital midway through the school year. In making this agonizing decision, the students and their families were always top of mind and in our prayers," said Father Shawn T. Daly, the newly-appointed Saint Mary Parish and School administrator.
However, there is an immediate option for the 109 students who were previously enrolled in the school: the newly-created St. Brigid-St. Augustine Partnership School in West Hartford. That location is less than three miles from St. Mary. It will be the first year of the partnership; St. Augustine in Hartford closed in June due to reduced enrollment, which led to the partnership.
Daly said, "I personally am a product of Catholic education, I believe in it, and I am a strong advocate for it. I did not want children to start the school year in one school and have to transfer to another half-way through the year."
The new school will have single-grade-level classrooms, as opposed to the multi-age classrooms that were used at St. Mary. In addition, while tuition is lower at the partnership school than it was at St. Mary, any students who previously received tuition assistance will continue to get that for this school year at the partnership school.
St. Brigid-St. Augustine offers a private chapel, science lab, boy's and girl's sports, extracurricular clubs, performing arts, an honor society and more.
Other Catholic schools in the area include the Corpus Christi School in Wethersfield, the Sacred Heart School in New Britain and the St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Hartford.