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Filed under News

Enrollment not drastically affected by local closing

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Contrary to popular belief, the JC student body will not receive a large influx of students as a result of the closing of Towson Catholic High School in Baltimore.  Rumors that circulated after the announcement of the closing of the school said that upwards of 80 students would be applying to transfer in for the 2009-2010 school year. 

According to Director of Admissions Kim Brueggemann, “nine qualified applicants,” including two incoming freshmen, have expressed genuine interest in attending.  Because it is so close to the start of the school year, Brueggemann said, “I can’t imagine that many more coming.”

Towson Catholic was closed due to economic problems.  At the time its closing on July 7, Towson Catholic had a deficit of $650,000 and had $160,000 of unpaid tuition on the books.  The school tried to remedy the situation by laying off teachers and cutting programs in hope that past-due tuition payments would be made and more students would register for the 2009-2010 school year.  The school budgeted for the income from 205 students, but only 163 had registered at the time of the closing.  Enrollment had dropped by 81 students over the past year, according to a letter to Towson Catholic parents from Immaculate Conception pastor Monsignor Dennis Tinder and principal Clare Pitz. 

The closing of the high school was met with outrage from both current and former students.  Hannah Messina, a member of the Class of 2010, told The Baltimore Sun, “I should be looking at colleges, not other high schools.”

“I am not supposed to be crying now.  I am supposed to be crying at my graduation next year,” said Christina Mastellone, another member of the Class of 2010.

Some alumni are taking the same approach as the students.  “We are not letting this close without trying to do something,” said Mike Boehm, who graduated in 1997.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, head of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, wrote in a letter to The Baltimore Sun that the best efforts of the board and administration of the school along with “the hiring of a strategic consultant earlier this year to help reposition the school in an effort to increase enrollment” could not make the situation better for many families, leaving no choice but to close the school.

The Towson Catholic alumni association filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Baltimore Tuesday, July 14 in Baltimore County Circuit Court in an attempt to keep the school open.

Archdiocese of Baltimore spokesman Sean Caine had to say about the lawsuit, “Keeping this school open is not an option at all. Even if money is raised, that would not address the question of decreasing enrollment.” 

On July 24, a Baltimore County judge rejected the lawsuit to keep the school open and both sides will be back in court on August 5 to hear a motion from the archdiocese to have the case dismissed.

Students have been forced to find new schools to enroll.  Students have enrolled at Maryvale, Mercy, Baltimore Lutheran, St. Paul’s, Calvert Hall, and local public schools.

Because of Towson Catholic’s proximity to the city, location makes it difficult for Towson Catholic students to attend.  According to Brueggemann, the students interested in transferring are ones that live relatively close or ones that were originally interested in coming to Harford County for school.

Brueggemann said, “The families and students are happy and excited about John Carroll” and she feels the transition should not be too difficult.

Principal Paul Barker could not be reached for comment, but in a letter to faculty dated July 16, 2009, he said, “I am sure we can provide them with a great senior year,” in reference to students transferring for their senior years.

Attempts to reach Tom Whedbee, Director of Guidance at Towson Catholic, were also unsuccessful.

Daniel Gallen can be reached for question or comment at dgallen@jcpatriot.com.

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