Archdiocese orders closure of Mundelein's Santa Maria del Popolo School
Citing financial reasons, Archdiocese of Chicago officials have ordered the closure of Santa Maria del Popolo School in Mundelein when the academic season ends in June.
Children who would have attended Santa Maria for prekindergarten through fifth grade in 2014-15 are being given priority enrollment at other Catholic schools, officials said. Santa Maria has provided a Catholic education for more than 60 years.
Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of Catholic schools, said low enrollment and a need for too much archdiocese financial support led to the decision to shutter Santa Maria. She delivered the disappointing news to parents, teachers and others at a meeting Monday night.
"The teachers' first six questions were all about kids and families," McCaughey said Wednesday. "What a tribute."
Santa Maria has a current enrollment of 85 students, said archdiocese schools spokesman Ryan Blackburn.
Mundelein resident Shah Quaiyoom is among those who have received word about Santa Maria's closing. The parishioner said his three children attended the school and received a good education.
"I'm very sad," Quaiyoom said. "I'm very sad because communities are built with schools. There are a lot of things that make up a community."
Santa Maria del Popolo Parish promoted a Jan. 26 school open house -- featuring tours, program information and an ice cream social -- in the Jan. 5 church bulletin. That invitation for the Lake Street school was issued a day before the news of the closure was revealed by McCaughey.
McCaughey said the authorization to close the school came Jan. 2, but it was too late to pull the open house information because the weekly church bulletin already was printed. She said the mention of the school was "unfortunate."
Santa Maria's event had been planned to coincide with the annual Catholic Schools Week across the United States. The theme is "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service."
In 2010, leaders from Santa Maria, St. Mary of the Annunciation in Fremont Township and Transfiguration Parish in Wauconda joined forces to create Frassati Catholic Academy for students in grades six through eight.
Children from the three parishes have been feeding into the 130-student Wauconda middle school, which was the first such venture by the archdiocese in Lake County. Transfiguration and St. Mary will continue the relationship with Frassati.
Santa Maria del Popolo Parish was founded and named by Cardinal George Mundelein, the third archbishop of Chicago and village namesake. It opened on Sept. 22, 1935.