NEW ORLEANS — At the end of this school year, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in Belle Chasse, will close its doors for good.
Administration says the closure comes as a result of a significant decrease in enrollment and a projected budget deficit of over a half million dollars.
In a letter to school families, pastor, Fr. Kyle Dave, and principal, Annette Accomando joined Catholic schools Superintendent Dr. RaeNell Houston in informing parents that the school would close at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
The letter indicated the enrollment was under 150 students and the projected deficit was over $500,000.
According to school leaders, the decrease in enrollment follows a downward trend the school had been experiencing that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and downward turn of the oil and gas industry, which has had a severe impact on the Plaquemines Parish community.
“We have been having conversations about Our Lady of Perpetual Help School’s future for some time,” said Dr. Houston. “We had hoped to be able to continue the school’s 60+ year legacy of Catholic education, but sadly, the enrollment coupled with the projected deficit make that impossible. We stand ready to assist families with registration and enrollment in other Catholic schools and will make all efforts to assist faculty and staff apply for jobs in area Catholic schools should they choose to apply.”
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Belle Chasse is the only Catholic school in Plaquemines Parish. It is anticipated neighboring Catholic schools on the Westbank would be able to accommodate the students and their families who choose to enroll in a nearby Catholic school.
“This is a sad day and a painful one for our students as well as our faculty and staff,” added Accomando. “Today, we have to look ahead to make this last quarter of school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help the best we can and work to assist our families through this transition.”
The Department of Catholic Education and Faith Formation has indicated it will be on hand soon to assist families. Parents with concerns have been encouraged to contact parish and school leadership directly with their questions.