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St. Mary’s School will stay open at least one more year

After experiencing years of declining enrollment, the question of whether or not to permanently close St. Mary’s Catholic School in Greenwood was one that had to be seriously considered this summer. After careful consideration, it was decided that the school would remain open for the 2020-21 school year, but beyond that, the future is uncertain.

Originally constructed back in 1913, St. Mary’s Catholic School has a long history in Greenwood. In its time, the school has taught hundreds of students the elementary lessons they would need in order to move on to higher education. As the years have gone by, however, St. Mary’s School — like most of the schools in the area — began to experience declining enrollment numbers.

While other schools have been able to hold on due to their larger pools of students, St. Mary’s has continued to experience declining enrollment. After graduating six students out of its sixth grade class last year, the school now has only 10 students remaining in grades 2-6.

“We don’t have any first graders registered,” said St. Mary’s Catholic School principal Jeannie Raycher. “We have one teacher for second through fourth grade, and the other for fifth and sixth grade. (The number of students) It’s pretty much scattered across the board between the two classes, there’s five students in each.”

The final decision to remain open for this year came after a meeting held a few weeks ago between the St. Mary’s pastoral council, finance council, teachers and parents of the students. After a long discussion, they decided to continue operations at least for this year, with a reevaluation to come after the school year ends next spring.

“We’re not sure if it’s our last year,” said Raycher. “We’re taking it year by year. So we’re hopeful to be open past this year, it is dependent on our enrollment.”

As the school reopens this fall, Raycher said the school will be practicing the safety measures of masks, cleaning and social distancing recommended by the Clark County Health Department and the State. In the event of a school closure, she said the school has purchased chromebooks for its students to be able to learn online, though the hope is to remain in school for face-to-face learning.

“It’s going to be easy to social distance,” she said. “We hope that we can stay in person. If we go virtually, we have been able to purchase chromebooks for the students if we have to do that. Learning with two plans in place in hopes that we are able to stay in school. We’re here and we’re anxious to start school.”