St. Wendelin High closing

FOSTORIA — St. Wendelin Catholic High School will close June 30, following a drop in enrollment, according to a release by Matt Meyers, director of the parish and school.

The release states the decision was made by the St. Wendelin Parish Finance Council, the St. Wendelin Catholic Schools Education Foundation Board, parish and school administration and diocesan officials.

“In reviewing St. Wendelin’s Parish finances, current and projected school enrollment numbers, fundraising efforts and capital expenditure needs for both the parish and school, these groups recommended that the closure is the only course of action that is prudent, fair and responsible …,” the release stated.

It stated keeping the high school open would drain financial reserves, leaving the parish in a deficit.

Both the K-8 and the high school have seen dropping enrollment numbers over the years. The 2010-11 school year saw 133 high school students enrolled and 192 K-8 students enrolled, a St. Wendelin Catholic School report stated, with those numbers dropping to 96 and 157, respectively, for this school year. Projected enrollment for next year was to 70 in the high school and is to be 145 for K-8.

The closing was foreshadowed more than a year ago when the high school’s football program was canceled in January 2016 due to lack of players. The program was reinstated last fall.

“It’s numbers, it’s purely numbers. Last year we had 50 percent of the boys in high school playing football,” said Coach Jim Bodart in a January 27, 2016, Advertiser-Tribune article. “Very few schools muster 50 percent of their boys on the football field.”

Administrators will be working with Calvert Catholic Schools in Tiffin and St. Joseph Central Catholic School in Fremont to transition students to other Catholic schools, the release stated.

The parish and K-8 school will continue to operate for the 2017-8 school year, the release stated. However, students in grades K-8 will move to a school facility on Wood Street for the 2018-19 school year.

St. Wendelin Catholic School opened in 1873, a report from the school stated. The school saw a major transformation in 1926 when the high school and its 109 students were moved to North Countyline Street.

Peak enrollment was in 1960, when 75 students were graduated. It was followed by an expansion that added 8 classrooms, a library, cafeteria and gymnasium, the report stated.

A tornado hit the school in 2002, leading to $1.2 million in repairs.