By ED SALVAS
Holy Innocents School in Neptune will graduate its last class of eighth graders next year, ending more than 50 years of providing a Catholic education for children in the township and surrounding towns.
The decision to close the school was announced to the faculty of the West Bangs Ave.school on Fri., Nov. 9 and to the Holy Innocents parish at weekend masses. Rev. H. Todd Carter, Pastor of Holy Innocents Church, discussed the reasons for the decision in a lengthy letter published in the weekly bulletin.
Fr. Carter said enrollment at the pre-K through eighth grade school showed a sudden downturn this year, with 93 students enrolled, down from 130 last year. He said the school needs 200 students to be considered healthy.
“Many schools throughout the Diocese of Trenton are suffering with a lack of enrollment, so there is very little hope our numbers are going to get better. Second, financially our parish has been suffering greatly for quite a while with our school needing a large subsidy every year. Because of the large subsidy, our parish has a large debt to the Diocese.”
“It is wrong for us to be unable to pay our own expenses and to run a program that we cannot sustain. I have tried over the past two years of being pastor here to solve both of these issues, but in the end, we have to face the facts.”
Holy Innocents School opened in 1965 and was staffed by Religious Teachers Fillipini and drew its many of first students from the overcrowded Holy Spirit School in Asbury Park. Its first graduating class was in 1971.
Fr. Carter thanked the sisters who started the school, Principal Cynthia Reimer and the lay teachers he considered “some of the best and most professional people I know.” He also thanked the parents who sent their children to Holy Innocents for a good Catholic Education and the people of the parish who personally contribute to the school.
He said it’s not one person or group that brought about the closing of Holy Innocents School. “We simply do not have enough funds or children to justify having one anymore.”