Feb. 10—OIL CITY — Venango Catholic High School in Oil City will close at the end of the 2023-24 academic year, according to the Venango Region Catholic School Association.
"I share in the pain of all who are affected by the decision," Bishop Lawrence T. Persico, of the Erie Catholic Diocese said Friday. "Closing a Catholic school is the last thing anyone wants to see happen. But despite the significant efforts of the community, we could not ignore the realities. Enrollment and budget goals can no longer be met for the high school."
St. Stephen School still will be available in the Oil City region for students in pre-K through eighth grade, Persico said.
In a report on Jan. 24, enrollment for both the high school and middle school had dropped since last June. Total high school enrollment stands at 32; enrollment for grades 7 and 8 stands at a total of 15.
Despite significant efforts made by the school board, administration, school families, volunteers and donors, the school fell short of its goal of $600,000 cash reserve by the end of 2023.
The $600,000 amount was needed so the school could continue to meet its ongoing financial obligations going forward.
The board reported it had reached a high of $462,003 prior to work that needed to be done on the high school's roof. The school's reserve is now at $348,642.
A timeline and process of next steps for students and faculty will be shared with the community in the coming days and weeks, according to the Erie Diocese.
The Diocese of Erie, which owns the facility and its property, plans to explore the possibility of selling it, using a portion of the sale to create a fund to help support St. Stephen Elementary School.