Following several years of battling declining enrollments and growing budget deficits, St. Mary’s Academy in Hoosick Falls announced on Feb. 12 that it will be closing at the end of the current school year. 

The school had only 20 students across the entirety of first through sixth grades, and 25 children in its pre-k and kindergarten classes. 

“I’m proud of the efforts of our staff and our supporters in the community, but it became clear that it was time to make this difficult decision,” said St. Mary’s Academy Principal Amanda Goyer. Principal Goyer and the Very Rev. Thomas Zelker, pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Hoosick Falls, discussed the planned closure with the Diocesan School Board, which accepted the plan. Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger reluctantly agreed, noting he was saddened by the closure, but appreciative of the school’s leaders for their forthright assessment. 

“While this is a sad day for our brothers and sisters in Hoosick Falls, it is important to recognize the responsibility to be good stewards with the resources entrusted to us, and not give false hope to those in an untenable position,” the Bishop said. 

St. Mary’s Academy started educating children in 1891 as the parish elementary school for ­Immaculate Conception in Hoo­sick Falls, in eastern Rensselaer County. The community has faced a number of crises including a devastating flood in 2017 and contamination of its municipal water source. Immaculate Conception parishioners were forced out of their church building due to flood damage. 

Last year St. Mary’s Academy discontinued seventh and eighth grades, which had just nine students, in an effort to reduce costs and ­emphasize its pre-k and kindergarten programs that account for more than half of the school’s total enrollment. While the school has an ardent base of supporters, ultimately the declining enrollment and revenue became unsustainable. 

The school will remain fully staffed and focused on providing an excellent education for its current students through the final school day in June, Principal Goyer said. “We have an extremely dedicated faculty and staff. While we are all obviously devastated by this news, we will make the remaining five and a half months the best they can possibly be for our students,” she said. The school has six full-time faculty and a total of 16 full- and part-time staff. 

Giovanni Virgiglio, diocesan school superintendent and dio­cesan chancellor, said the Diocese will work closely with St. Mary’s Academy staff and the families of students to identify alternative options for families to continue a Catholic education next year. The Catholic School Office is also working with St. Mary’s Academy employees to assist them as they seek new opportunities for the 2019-20 school year. 

“While the school may be closing, the community of support locally and across the Diocese will remain strong, and St. Mary’s Academy members will know we are here for them during this difficult time. We remain committed to working with the affected families and school personnel during this time of transition” Superintendent Virgiglio said.