Historic St. Jude school to close at end of school year - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Historic St. Jude school to close at end of school year

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

St. Jude Educational Institute in Montgomery will close at the end of the school year. The school made the announcement in a meeting with students and parents at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

According to a school, this was a "painful" decision but unavoidable due to financial reasons.

The school released the following announcement:

"After discussions with the leadership of St. Jude, the Archdiocese of Mobile has decided that St. Jude Educational Institute will close of at the end the school year. Despite outstanding efforts by the St. Jude leadership, this decision is unavoidable due to the fact that the school is not financially viable. The school, which was built for more than 500 students, has had an average enrollment of less than 150 students per year over the last ten years.

Since its beginning, the school's budget has been subsidized by The City of St. Jude. The City of St. Jude has invested over 6 million dollars to support the school over the past 10 years alone. In the current school year, the cost to educate a student is $8183, while tuition is $4800. Increasing tuition to cover the actual cost would lead to a decrease in enrollment, thus causing the cost per student to increase even more.

St. Jude Educational Institute has provided outstanding education for the past 76 years. Because of this valued heritage, this decision , although necessary, is most painful.

Catholic education continues to be provided to our young people through Catholic schools at Resurrection Catholic School and Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School. The Administrations of Resurrection Catholic School and Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School are willing to assist the families of St. Jude students who wish to enroll at Resurrection Catholic School or Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School."

WSFA 12 News reporter Bethany Wales was outside the school at the time of the announcement and says students and parents are devastated.

St. Jude is a Catholic, college preparatory school with grades seven through 12, according to the school's website.

The school opened in 1938 as part of the City of St. Jude.

According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, the City of St. Jude is a Roman Catholic social-service organization established in 1937 to provide medical, educational and spiritual assistance.

Besides the school, the City of St. Jude still operates a social services program, the Father Purcell Memorial Exceptional Children's Center and the St. Jude Apartments.

School was first held in the basement of the church. Then in 1940, construction started on the school. It consisted of facilities for at least 600 students, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

The City of St. Jude gained national attention during the Selma to Montgomery March. Civil rights supporters camped on the grounds of St. Jude on the last night before reaching Montgomery.

St. Jude won back-to-back 1A boys state basketball championships in 2013 and 2014.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange released the following statement:

"Like everybody else, we regret St. Jude Educational Institute -- a ministry that has meant so much to so many for more than 70 years -- will close at the end of the school year. Although it was a difficult decision, we understand why it had to be made. We wish the City of St. Jude all the best as they continue providing life-changing ministries and services throughout our community."

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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