CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – Good Shepherd Parish in Camp Hill says due to continued decreasing enrollment, the financial stress it brings, and the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, the school will suspend its operations this June.
Good Shepherd Parish is closing grades 1-8 and, after a time of transition, will open PreK in January 2021 and Kindergarten in the fall of 2021.
“This is not something we planned to do or wanted to do,’ said Father Sullivan. “However, it is something we need to do given our current situation and challenges beyond our control. This decision affects us all in many ways. I share the disappointment it brings. Our immediate priority is to assist our students in transitioning to other schools and support our faculty and staff in finding new positions.”
Good Shepherd Catholic School has been faced with declining enrollment and increased operating deficits for several years. The school has seen a 43% decline in enrollment since 2016.
The school says in March of this year, 152 students were enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year and as of May 28, the number declined to just 82.
Parish and school leaders have worked to develop a plan to prevent the suspension but they say with the decline in enrollment, the parish has no other options.
Good Shepherd Catholic School says by making the decision to suspend the school’s operation, the parish will be better positioned to provide for the spiritual, physical, and educational needs of its families moving forward.
Planning and preparation are already in the works in order to transition Good Shepherd Catholic School into an early learning facility.
“We have our eye on January 2021 and the launching of the Early Learning Academy at Good Shepherd School. It will offer programs for three and four year olds as well as Kindergarten in a Catholic environment with exceptional opportunities and resources,” said Father Sullivan. “Mr. Mike Pietropola, our school principal, is already exploring how we can serve our parishioners as well as those from other parishes and the local community with an engaging, empowering, and creative environment for young learners.”
As preparations are made to suspend the school’s operation, parish and school leadership will work closely with the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools to support staff members and to assist families who wish to continue their Catholic education at neighboring Catholic schools.
“I am grateful to everyone who is part of our school. Our parishioners provide an incredible building for God’s children to learn and share yearly support for its mission and operation. Our faculty and staff give their all. Our parents sacrifice and partner with us. Our students not only learn, but they teach us. This next chapter will continue Good Shepherd’s amazing legacy of Catholic Education and faith formation by focusing on God’s littlest ones” said Father Sullivan.
To learn more about Good Shepherd Catholic Parish, including its future plans for the school program, visit thegoodshep.org.