Parents and students participated in a rally calling to save St. Ferdinand Catholic School in San Fernando on Sunday.
The school is one of six elementary schools that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will close in June as part of a consolidation plan. Other schools closing are Assumption in Boyle Heights, Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood, St. Catherine of Siena in Reseda, St. Francis of Assisi in Silver Lake and St. Madeleine in Pomona.
“They’ve already been disrupted with the pandemic, emotionally,” said parent Jina Franco. “Just starting to come back, we find out two weeks into the school year that school is closing. So that’s another emotional hit for our kids, our community.”
Parents at the rally say they’re working to fundraise and bring awareness to the issue to stop the disruption to the children’s education.
Sister Eleanor Ortega used to be the principal of St. Ferdinand, a position she held for more than two decades. On Sunday, she joined those rallying to keep the school open.
“If it’s going to close, it shouldn’t close now,” she told KTLA, citing the effects of the pandemic on students. “It should be delayed,” she added.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the school took a financial hit, suffering a growing operating deficit of more than $350,000 per year, making it impossible to maintain the same quality of education.
St. Ferdinand experienced a 46% decrease in enrollment in the past year, according to the Archdiocese.
Tuition at the six affected private schools — all in largely working-class Latino neighborhoods — ranges from about $3,900 to $6,000 annually, and it became difficult for parents to afford the cost as many lost their jobs in the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Superintendent of Schools Paul Escala said in a statement that financial issues had begun even before the pandemic.
“These six schools have been trying to overcome financial challenges long before the pandemic. After careful discernment with Archdiocesan in and school leadership, the decision was reached to consolidate the schools with nearby schools to create a union that would strengthen the school communities in the area so that all students can continue to receive the quality Catholic education that our schools provide,” Escala said.