After 65 years of providing academic excellence to Bayonne, Jersey City and the Archdiocese of Newark, Marist High School, Bayonne’s only Catholic high school regrettably will be closing its doors at the completion of the academic year in June 2020. All classes, athletic team schedules, guidance and extracurricular activities will continue through June.
Br. Patrick McNamara, Provincial, and the Provincial Council of the Marist USA Province, made the decision to close after much deliberation and support for Marist. Br. Patrick continued, “Marist is a wonderful high school and educational family. We Marist Brothers have cherished the many years of excellent education given by dedicated Brothers and Lay Marists, and we are grateful to all the extraordinary efforts by the Marist School Board and Alumni to support Marist. But we, the Marist Brothers or Marist High School, simply do not have the funds to continue school operations after this academic year.
Since 2008, enrollment at Marist has declined by more than half. Fewer students and the resulting loss in revenue through the years has created an operational deficit that depleted the school’s reserve despite aggressive fundraising efforts. In 2017, the Marist Brothers, and the school administration announced a “Save The School” campaign to raise $1.5 million necessary to continue operations but were successful in bringing in only $750,000. Since that time, those funds have been utilized to maintain continuity and to build a strategic plan which included the September 2018 hiring of President Peter G. Kane to explore available options to avoid the School’s closing.
This most recent development caps a decade-long, nationwide decline in Catholic education. According to the National Catholic Educational Association, almost 1,000 elementary and secondary schools have closed since 2009. In New Jersey alone, there have been over 100 closings in the past two decades. Notable recent closings include St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington and in June 2019, St. Mary of the Assumption High School in Elizabeth. All of them resulting from similar enrollment and revenue challenges faced by Marist.
According to Kane, “Marist High School is proud of its service to the community through six decades, maintaining the highest standards of Catholic education. This has been a painful and difficult decision for everyone involved. I am heartened by knowing the positive impact Marist has made in the lives of our current students, their families and alumni who have been so supportive of our efforts through this challenging process.”
Marist’s current enrollment of 235 students represents a dramatic decline from over 300 students as recently as 2015. “Despite our best efforts, we cannot continue to bridge the annual operational gap of over $1 million. The steady decline in enrollment, along with increasing expenses and the ongoing financial assistance we provide to our families has made this closure unavoidable.” stated Kane.
Since first opening its doors in 1954, Marist High School has been guided and directed by the principles of the Founder, St. Marcellin Champagnat, Marist Brothers, and by dedicated and generous Lay Marists. Marist High School has been a catalyst for advancement, awarding over 8,000 diplomas to the sons and daughters of Hudson County residents, many of whom were first generation Americans.
School administration, faculty, coaches and guidance counselors will continue their commitment to the community of enrolled students and parents and focus their efforts on assisting families to make the necessary arrangements for transfers to regional high schools.