Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to close 4 schools due to low enrollment, financial issues amid COVID-19

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced Tuesday it is closing four schools after this academic year due to low enrollment and other financial issues made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents, students and staff were notified St. Pius V Catholic School in Pasadena, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Queen of Peace and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Schools in Houston will not re-open for the 2020-2021 school year. Once vibrant schools, enrollment at all four dwindled to 257 students.

"It's very sad for us," said superintendent of Catholic schools Debra Haney. "The closure decision was made because of continuing lower enrollment in inner-city Catholic schools as well as financial concerns that were building prior to the pandemic. Certainly because of the low enrollment but the pandemic obviously impacted our Houston economy in many, many ways. The church has felt it, as well, and due to the lower offertory and the Archdiocese's inability to continue to support these schools, this decision had to be made and it is very unfortunate."

Each school had been open for decades and made lasting impacts on those who had walked their halls.

ABC13 sports producer Joe Gleason and his seven siblings attended St Pius V from kindergarten through eighth grade. For him, it wasn't just a school. Forty years later, he still remembers all of his teachers' names and stays in touch with classmates. The school even came to their aid when his mother was struggling financially.

"They helped out. They helped put my family through," Gleason said. "I remember my mom said Mrs. Metcalf, my seventh grade teacher, paid for my younger brother, Thomas, to finish school there because she didn't have enough money to pay for tuition. These are people who meant a whole lot not just to me, but to the entire community."

The Archdiocese is offering a $500 tuition credit to families who wish to transfer and is working to find positions for teachers and principals at other schools.

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