St. Mark Catholic School in Boynton Beach to close at end of 20012-2013 year

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - After more than 50 years of educating student, St. Mark Catholic School in Boynton Beach is closing at the end of the school year.

The Diocese of Palm Beach announced on Friday it will close the pre-k through 8th grade school due to a lack of students signing of for class next year.

"Started reading it and we noticed they were closing the school I just went, 'you got to be kidding me,'" said Tom Ruffini, who is part of the parish council at St. Mark Catholic Church.

The 2012-2013 enrollment was 225 students. The following school year, the diocese was expected a sharp decline in student of 126.

"I just think between the economy crashing and things doing what they're doing, it's been really hard for everybody. It's a shame," said Ruffini.

St. Mark Catholic School joins a growing list according to the National Catholic Education Association.

Since 2000, 2,090 Catholic school have closed or have been consolidated throughout the country. In that same time period, Catholic school enrollment fell nearly 25%.

"It's certainly not my goal to close any schools. It just really came on us like a ton of bricks," said Gary Gelo, Superintendent of School for the Diocese of Palm Beach.

Gelo said he does not know how many teachers or staff members will lose their jobs. He said they are working to find them other positions within the diocese.

Ruffini said it is the 126 kids who still planned to be at St. Mark next year who suffer the most.

"The kids will be losing out. Hopefully they'll continue on in another Catholic school some place else, but they're the ones that really get hurt with it all," said Ruffini.

The Palm Beach Diocese Superintendent also said many of the families who have long-lasting ties to St. Mark have moved away from the area, making it difficult to make the drive to Boynton Beach for school.


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