St. Theresa School effectively closed for the second time in its history Monday, with word that research is already being conducted into alternative possibilities for education.
The private Catholic school has been facing enrollment declines for some time, which ultimately led to its recent closure, said Beverly Sass, parish secretary for the neighboring St. Theresa Catholic Church.
“It’s been heavy hearts and sad faces for the last several days around here,” Sass said.
School staff could not be immediately reached by phone or email for comment. However, a church newsletter helped explain the situation.
“The low enrollment of students at our school over a period of several years,” the newsletter read, “and the current & trending demography of the Tahoe area, raise serious concern about the sustainability of a parish school, and raise serious concern about how an accumulating operating deficit by our school will impact the financial health of the parish as a whole.”
A phone message at the school mentioned research into a private independent Catholic school, but a call to the provided phone number was not returned either.
“The diocese (of Sacramento) having announced the closure of our school, is an alternative possible?” the newsletter continued. “There are many parents of our present youngsters, staff members, and members of the community at large who are exhaustively studying possibilities of what we still might be able to offer here on the grounds of our parish, continuing what we hope can be schooling for our children centered on Christian identity, Catholic education, and high quality academics.”
On Tuesday, the school parking lot was empty, and the front doors were locked.
St. Theresa School originally opened in 1960 with 120 students before closing in 1969, according to the school’s website. It reopened on Aug. 31, 1994, with 121 students.
About 50 students were enrolled in the school this past year, Sass said.
James Tarwater, Lake Tahoe Unified School District superintendent, said the district will make room for any students transferring from the K-8 Catholic school if that’s where they decide to go.
“My bottom line is they are Tahoe kids,” he said. “Wherever they want to go, I’ll support them.”