Pastor, principal express sadness in letter to Towson Catholic parents

The following letter was sent by to parents of Towson Catholic High School students by Monsignor Dennis Tinder, pastor of Immaculate Conception, and Clare Pitz, principal of Towson Catholic.

We must sadly inform you that after an 86-year-long history of providing an excellent Catholic, co-educational secondary education to young women and men of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Towson Catholic High School is being forced to close. Caught in the economic downturn, the high school has been struggling to maintain itself financially with a shrinking number of students as well as a dramatically reduced number of registrations for the upcoming school year. Since last year when the school had an enrollment of 244 students, Towson Catholic has lost more than 80 students. Though we budgeted conservatively due to the poor economy and had hoped for the typical uptick in summer registrations, it has become clear that the sharp decline in enrollment will prevent the school from re-opening.

We fully understand that this difficult decision to close TC is painful for you and your children. It is likewise a blow for our administration, faculty and staff. We also think of the thousands of graduates who have wonderful memories of their education here, what it has helped them to achieve, and what it has meant to who they are as contributors to society.

We want you to know that our administration has made a valiant effort at survival, but the tidal wave of this dire economy has proven to be no match for us, as it has for other institutions, including three other schools in the Archdiocese this year. Let me explain further.

The sole financial foundation of Towson Catholic High School is tuition income. The Immaculate Conception parish has been generously supportive over the years, particularly in funding improvements to the school’s physical plant that were part of a recent capital campaign. The parish is not able, however, to make up a deficit totaling more than $650,000.00.

The school began to experience the effects of the economy this past school year, when $160,000.00 of tuition went unpaid. As a result, the administration took measures to address the budget shortfall, including laying off 11 teachers and staff members as well as reducing planned programs. In the second semester, numerous budget revisions were made in the hope that past-due tuition payments would be made and that registrations would turn around as the current year ended and families made plans for the fall. That has not happened. Our final bare-bones budget for the 2009-2010 year was based upon tuition income from 205 students. To date, we have only 163 students registered.

The Immaculate Conception Parish, the administration and board of Towson Catholic High School, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore now believe that to delay this announcement, in hopes of an unlikely boost in enrollment, would put you, the students, our faculty, and staff in an even more difficult position for finding other educational and employment opportunities.

We know that this announcement comes as a shock to you and your children. We would like to meet with as many of our parents and students as possible on Tuesday, July 14th at 7 p.m., here in our auditorium to discuss this decision. Staff from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as representatives from Catholic High Schools, have been invited to assist you in evaluating the educational opportunities available to your children and provide information about other schools in the archdiocese. Parents who have already paid their registration fee for the coming year and are current on their payment of this past year’s tuition will receive a full refund.

Understanding the unique challenge this announcement makes for all our students, most especially our seniors, Mr. Tom Whedbee (twhedbee@theimmaculate.org), Director of Guidance, has agreed to serve as a point of contact to handle requests for transcripts, letters of recommendations and other student assistance during this difficult time.

We are most grateful for your understanding. Please keep the Towson Catholic family in your prayers. God bless you.

Sincerely,

Monsignor Dennis Tinder
Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish

Clare Pitz
Principal, Towson Catholic High School

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

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