NORTH ARLINGTON, N.J. — Despite best efforts by students, parents, parishioners and alumni, Queen of Peace High School will close for good in June.
Last year, the Catholic school faced the same threat, but fundraisers came to the rescue. They collected $1.6 million in donations to keep the school open.
But with teacher salaries of $200,000 per month and heating bills in the winter of almost $30,000 per month, the school is burning through cash fast. While income is declining as the student populations shrinks.
Queen of Peace used to boast a student body of over 1,000. Today, about 225 teenagers attend the school.
“It’s enrollment. But part of it also is that our tuition this year was $9,200. It really costs about $14,000 to educate one of our students,” said Fr. Mike Donovan, the pastor and president of Queen of Peace High School.
“There’s a lot of schools that are struggling cause you can’t charge what you need to charge to cover the cost.”
St. Anthony’s and Marist High School found themselves in a similar situation this year. St. Anthony’s in Jersey City will close. While Marist has cobbled together the funds needed to continue operating next year.
Queen of Peace High School opened it’s doors in 1930. The Archdiocese of Newark offered to bridge any funding gaps to keep it open another year, but Fr. Donovan said he turned them down.
“Each year still showed a deficit of over $1 million.”
Donovan said they hired an outside company from Wisconsin who specializes in helping struggling Catholic schools to form strategic plans, but the 4-year prognosis showed a growing deficit that would be too grim to make up for with fundraising.
He said staying open another year would just be prolonging the inevitable and even more students would be left in limbo.
“We’re all so devastated. This school has been apart of our community,” said Madeline Revesz. Both her children graduated from Queen of Peace. “When I see these doors shut its going to be very sad.”
Father Donovan invited students, parents and the community to attend a 7 p.m. meeting on Wednesday night at Queen of Peace Church.
On May 16, he said the school will host a fair where other Catholic Schools in the area will set up booths and work to get the students and staff placed elsewhere.
About 30 faculty and staff will be out of work when Queen of Peace closes.
“It is upsetting, but in the end I know I made the right decision sending my kids through Queen of Peace,” said Cheryl Riley, whose youngest daughter is graduating from the high school this year.