Updated on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 — Audio: Parents requesting more time to keep St. Mary’s school open
Following a viability study, Saint Mary’s Catholic School will reduce the number of grades offered at the school beginning next year due to financial concerns.
Starting in the fall, the school will only offer classes for three and four-year-old pre-kindergarten classes. Currently, the school offers courses up to the eighth grade.
Father James Wickersham, pastor of the church, says the decision of reducing the number of grades did not come easy.
“I am struggling to accept the reality, but it is my responsibility to be a good steward of parish resources, including not leaving us in massive debt,” the pastor said in a letter to the school’s faculty, staff and parents.
The decision to cut back classes comes from the recommendation from the parish, seven-member Finance Council.
Enrollment numbers have decreased for the school that opened on Sept. 26, 1889 as the first Catholic school in the Oklahoma Territory.
The pastor says the decision does not affect the current school year and that the timing of the announcement is to help families and the faculty to make future decisions.
“I will miss every day seeing the wonderful students with their joy and humor,” Father Wickersham said. “I will continue to pray for students, families and staff. Please pray for me.”