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SYLVANIA, OH (Press Release) -
Lourdes University recently announced plans to close the Franciscan Academy, a Catholic primary school in Sylvania, at the end of the current academic year. The decision will affect 172 students in grades K through 8th grade, as well as 23 full-time and 14 part-time staff. Lourdes and the Sisters of St. Francis were unified in the decision to close the Academy as a result of the school's financial and enrollment challenges.
In 2009, Lourdes was asked to take over operation of the Franciscan Academy from the Sisters of St. Francis (who founded the school in 1973), in an attempt to improve its position through integration with the University's College of Education. During this time, Lourdes invested more than half a million dollars in the operation of the Academy and implemented a series of marketing and educational initiatives, though none of the measures were sufficient in solidifying the schools sustainable future.
"While the Franciscan Academy has been a great success in providing a first-rate education and has produced some of the highest achieving students in northwest Ohio, we have found that the cost to sustain this level of excellence is not economically feasible at this time," shares David Livingston, PhD, Lourdes University President.
Enrollment at the Academy has also seen fluctuations over the years, though this is not atypical of other area Catholic schools according to a recent study reported by the Diocese's Metro Toledo Educational Taskforce, which projects a downward trajectory throughout the region for Catholic K-8 education.
"Based on what we know regarding enrollment in our area and the reports that have been done specifically on Catholic primary education, Lourdes believes that keeping the Academy open is also not viable in terms of future enrollment. Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to close the school at the end of the academic year. Though it is an outstanding place of learning, our ultimate focus is on providing a quality university education and ensuring the success of our Lourdes students," Dr. Livingston adds.
Prior to Lourdes' public announcement, administrators met with staff and parents of students attending the Franciscan Academy, to answer questions and provide resources to both populations. No future plans for the Franciscan Academy building (at 5335 Silica Drive) have been made. The property is owned by the Sisters of St. Francis, and therefore future plans for the facility lie with the Sisters.