The diocesan Office of Education has announced that it is closing its Catherine Laboure Program that educates children with special needs.
In a letter to parents, Mary Nafash, principal and executive director, wrote, “It is with deep regret and profound sadness that this letter comes to share with you the news of the closure of the Catherine Laboure Program effective August 31, 2017.”
She said that the decision was made based on “the continuing economic challenges faced by the program and the rapidly decreasing pool of students choosing Catherine Laboure.”
According to the school’s board, there were 69 students in the school five years ago. As of July, that number will have decreased to 29.
A minimum of 50 students is needed in order to sustain the school financially.
“The amount that the state provides per student is just not enough to cover costs,” said Nafash.
“Our budget was based on a larger number student body but due to situations beyond our control that number is significantly less than needed to meet the budget needs.”
The diocesan Department of Education is working to transition the students to other programs within the geographic area. Thus far, 19 students would be able to placed in programs conducted by HeartShare Human Services.
“It is our intention to maintain the summer program so that the current students enrolled for 12 months will continue to receive their services mandated on their IEP,” explained Nafash.
A parents night was scheduled for Wednesday, June 7, to answer parents’ questions.
The program is currently operated out of a building owned by Our Lady of Miracles parish in Canarsie.