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Diocese closing schools in Jamestown, Le Roy

Parents, students and the board of trustees were described as "devastated" by Tuesday's announcement by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo that the Catholic Academy of the Holy Family will be closed due to declining enrollment and financial challenges.

Holy Family School in Le Roy also will be closed for the same reasons, a diocesan spokesman said.

"My son is crying," said Cindy Zuech, who has four children in the Jamestown elementary school.

Zuech said the diocese gave the school three months to raise enrollment to 100 by May 15 and make up a $120,000 deficit. She noted that the money was raised and K-8 enrollment was increased to 63.

"We have enough money to cover next year's budget," she said. "We have no doubt that we can get [more students] by the end of next year."

Zuech said that if the school's current prekindergarten and Montessori school students were included, the total would be 100. She noted that Holy Family offers the only Montessori school in Chautauqua County.

Holy Family School in Le Roy has a K-8 enrollment of 100 students, a decline of 39 percent, or 63 students, in total enrollment since 2003.

Although the diocese has offered a $500 tuition credit so that students in the Jamestown and Le Roy schools can attend any other Catholic elementary school next year, Zuech said there are no others in southern Chautauqua County.

The diocese said funds have been provided to bus Le Roy students to St. Joseph School in Batavia. No bus provisions were reported for Jamestown students.

Both schools are currently operating with significant subsidies from the diocese.

"These communities worked very hard to keep the schools open, viable and sustainable," said Rosemary Henry, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese. "But very low enrollment and financial challenges may not only compromise the socialization and educational environment for students but may also impact the ability to meet payroll and other important expenses. We are all grateful for the energy, dedication and effort by the Jamestown and Le Roy communities."