AKRON, OH (WOIO) - After more than 70 years on Brown Street, St. Paul Catholic School in Akron is set to close their doors after this school year.
The decision has caused a divide among parishioners and brought the debate about non-parishioners attending the school to the forefront.
Cleveland 19 talked to several church goers leaving mass this morning, who said that while saddened, they understood that declining enrollment has hurt many schools in the area. But others told us they no longer feel comfortable in the church and some have stopped attending.
Concerned parents and the Cleveland Diocese agree that the situation could've been handled better, that more communication was necessary in a time like this. But the debate remains as to the viability of the school and what the church did, or didn't do, to save it.
The Save Saint Paul's group says numerous proposals and offers to help financially or with recruitment were rejected, they were told the school would have the same problem in the next three to four years. Other members of the congregation told Cleveland 19 that Father Matthew Pfeiffer did not tell the parish out of fear of a backlash. Parents also add the school has done nothing to market itself or recruit students in the last four years.
The diocese says they start watching schools with enrollments under 200. St. Paul has 126 students this school year. The diocese also tried to quell concerns about the endowment at St. Paul, saying that money has to be used for educational services within that parish, regardless of the school closure.
But their reassurances hasn't shaken the feeling that Father Pfeiffer and Bishop Nelson Perez have been shrugging off their concerns, and that while they acknowledged mistakes were made, their attitude boils down to "live and learn."
For now, the concerned group of parents are forced to move forward and look for new schools next year, whether their young children fully grasp the situation or not.