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Immaculate Conception School in Elkton set to close its doors at end of school year in June

Rising fiscal deficits and dwindling enrollment have led leaders at Immaculate Conception in Elkton, Md., to decide the parish elementary school should cease operations in June. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

ELKTON, Md. – Immaculate Conception School will close its doors for the final time in June, falling victim to rising costs and dwindling enrollment, the parish pastor and school principal confirmed in a letter to parents Jan. 31.

The parish and elementary school community was informed in mid-November that fiscal deficits led leaders at Immaculate Conception to recommend the parish elementary school should cease operations after this school year.

“After considerable thought, discussion and prayer, it is with deep regret we announce that our beloved Immaculate Conception School will complete its mission and close its doors at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year,” Father James Yeakel, parish pastor, and Bill Schilling, wrote in the letter to parishioners and parents.

“Closing our school was not an easy decision,” they wrote. “But after reviewing enrollment and demographics needs, accessibility to parishes and schools that are nearby, and finances and other data to assess the viability of the school, we fully believe that this is the best decision for our community.”

Louis P. De Angelo, diocesan schools superintendent, expressed gratitude for efforts in supporting the school.

“We are grateful for all that has been done by Immaculate Conception Parish, school board, school staff, parents, and benefactors on behalf of the school for so many years,” De Angelo said in a statement. Enrollment in November was 113 students, De Angelo said.

De Angelo in November outlined support options for families who wish their children to continue in a Catholic school.

  • A one-time (2020-2021 school year) Continuing Catholic Education Grant of $1,000 per student will be offered by any school willing to receive students.
  • An evening will be offered at which interested receiving schools will be invited to ICS to meet families.
  • A universal shadow day will be provided at which students may shadow at the schools of their choice.

For teachers and staff the following supports will be put in place.

  • A meeting with the diocesan HR Director will be arranged to assist with questions/concerns and resume writing/interview practices.
  • Qualified educators and staff members wishing to continue to serve in the Diocese of Wilmington will have their information shared with other schools on a priority list.
  • Ongoing meetings with faculty and staff will be available with Carol Ripken, associate superintendent, and De Angelo.

Immaculate Conception school was opened in 1927 by the Ursuline Sisters. The Glen Riddle Franciscans followed the Ursuline Sisters in 1930. The school reached its peak enrollment of 554 students in the 1960s, according to the school website.

“Our board, pastor, and administration have exhausted efforts to creatively and economically counter this decline,” the pastor and principal wrote.

“We are proud of our unique history and the amazing accomplishments of our school community. Our small school truly does have a big heart — and that heart will always live on through the legacy and the accomplishments of our graduates and parish community.”