CHICAGO (AP) -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago plans to close 14 elementary schools in the city and suburbs because of continued low enrollment and dwindling finances. The archdiocese also will consolidate two schools and open three new ones.
The changes are expected to uproot 2,390 students in the nation's largest Catholic school system. Displaced students and staff will be sent to other archdiocese schools, according to Monday's announcement.
Many of the schools scheduled to close are in poor neighborhoods, where parishes are not able to subsidize the schools on their own. Eleven of the closures are in Chicago and the others are in west suburban Cicero and Melrose Park and south suburban Harvey.
''We are not turning our backs on any of those children,'' said Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of archdiocesan schools. ''Even though we are closing these 14, we still have 91 Catholic schools that serve the inner city. We feel the remaining schools will be stronger because of this.''
Archdiocesan officials said changing demographics, smaller families and decreased enrollment were factors that contributed to the closures. Administrators also blamed the dwindling number of nuns, who serve as an inexpensive teaching force.
Some parents say they will work to prevent the closures.
''We are going to do a petition drive and we are going to fight,'' said Olintha Smith, who has three children and one grandchild at Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of Lourdes School, and graduated from the Chicago school herself in 1969.
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