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St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy in Ogdensburg to close after this school year

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OGDENSBURG — St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy will close after the current school year because declining enrollment means the school cannot pay its bills, according to a letter sent home Thursday to parents of children enrolled in the small Catholic school.

The school at 315 Gates St., operated jointly by the Notre Dame Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral parishes, enrolls about 55 students in junior kindergarten through sixth grade.

The letter said the school Education Council and the Pastoral and Finance councils of the parishes decided in 2013 “to try one more year to increase enrollment and become more financially stable.”

“However, despite our best efforts, neither goal was achieved. Enrollment took an even deeper plunge and we are unable to remain current on our bills,” the letter said.

The letter, signed by the Rev. F. James Shurtleff, pastor of Notre Dame Church, and the Rev. Joseph A. Morgan, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral, said that at the beginning of this school year enrollment was at 50 children in kindergarten through sixth grade, with another five in junior kindergarten.

“That has slightly increased during this second half of the year, but not nearly to the point that is needed,” the letter said.

The joint councils met again in February and concluded that they should look “at other ways of promoting our Catholic faith for our children and families,” according to the letter.

School Principal Celina R. Burns could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.

The letter said, “With so few taking advantage of the opportunities offered by SMDA, [the joint councils] recommended that we close SMDA and find another way to engage our families in faith formation and encourage their practice of the faith.”

The school has operated in Ogdensburg since 1974, when Bishop Controy Memorial School and Notre Dame School merged.

Matthew A. George, who has three children enrolled in the school, said, “It’s a tough decision that they had to make. It’s a sign of the times that they have to find new methods to do what they have to do.”

In closing, the letter said, “We remain grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of our principal, teachers and staff at SMDA. The commitment of our parishes and families to SMDA has also been a source of great blessing.”

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