ITHACA, N.Y. — The Immaculate Conception School, a longstanding fixture of the Ithaca Catholic community, will be letting out classes for the last time next month. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester will shut down the school after the academic year finishes out on June 21st.
The co-educational Catholic school was opened in 1884, and currently serves children from pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade. Located at 320 West Buffalo Street just outside Downtown Ithaca, it is the only Catholic school in Tompkins County, attracting families from several local districts.
In a letter to parishioners and parents yesterday, Immaculate Conception Church pastor Rev. Augustine Chumo and school principal Donald Mills note that the school has struggled with declining enrollment and increasing operating costs. “Enrollment is at a historic low, and the increased financial strain on both the school and the parish is insurmountable.”
According to the letter, the current enrollment is 56 students; historically, the school has enrolled about 100. Staff and parents will be given the opportunity to transfer to other diocese schools outside the county, should they desire to do so. For instance, families who wanted to utilize Diocese high schools for grade 7-12 education attended Notre Dame High School in Elmira, taking a daily bus that picked students up and dropped them off at ICS.
“I truly empathize with the Immaculate Conception School community who desired a Catholic school education, but the low enrollment and depleted resources do not make this possible. I pray for their understanding and cooperation at this difficult time,” states Bishop Salvatore R. Matano in a letter to the parish.
The Ithaca area is not unique in this unfortunate outcome. The Diocese has previously closed a number of elementary schools throughout its domain as a result of declining enrollment and sustained operating deficits.
No plans for the school building have been announced at this time.