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St. John Villa Academy on Staten Island to Close at End of School Year

St. John Villa Academy Elementary School and St. John Villa Academy High School on Staten Island will close at the end of the school year, the Sisters of St. John the Baptist announced Jan. 10.

“The Sisters of St. John the Baptist are sad to announce the closure” of the schools, said Sister Claudette Jaszczynski, C.S.JB., provincial superior of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist, American Province, in a statement.

“Lack of adequate sister personnel and financial resources, as well as a declining enrollment, has led the sisters to this difficult but inevitable decision,” she added.

The Sisters of St. John the Baptist and lay personnel staff the private Catholic school, founded in 1922 and located on a seven-acre campus in the Arrochar section of Staten Island.

According to the school’s website, enrollment in the girls’ high school is 510; the coed pre-k to eighth grade elementary school has 214 boys and girls.

“After 94 years of devoted ministry to families and their children, the sisters deeply regret having to make this decision,” Sister Claudette concluded.

Parents, students and staff members were notified of the news.

The Office of the Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of New York has offered support and assistance concerning the placement of students and teachers who want to remain in the Catholic school system.

Additional information and resources will be provided to students and families in the coming days and weeks, the statement from the Sisters of St. John the Baptist said.

“Although the decision concerning the future status of St. John Villa Academy Elementary and High School is the sole purview of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist and not the Archdiocese of New York, the Office of the Superintendent commends the Sisters for 94 proud years of providing an outstanding Catholic education for thousands of young people on Staten Island,” said Dr. Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, in a statement.

When Cardinal Dolan met with the sisters about five weeks ago, the cardinal thanked them for their decades of service at St. John Villa, Dr. McNiff said.

“While we understand the pain and difficulty that this announcement will bring,” Dr. McNiff said, “the countless students, teachers, staff, parents and dedicated sisters have built a stellar legacy at Villa over the past century which will live on in the labors and successes of its proud alumni community.”

While affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York and the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, St. John Villa Academy belongs to a category of private schools, led by a religious order, which exercise wide autonomy over financial, operational and administrative matters.

“The sisters and school administration will provide information and resources to help shepherd families through this transition,” Dr. McNiff concluded, “and the Office of the Superintendent is pleased to offer our assistance in that process, particularly to help place students in another one of our excellent Catholic schools.”

According to the school’s website, the Sisters of St. John the Baptist opened a school named St. John’s Novitiate and Boarding School in September 1923. By the early 1930s, high school classes were added.

Additions to the campus include the construction of the current elementary school building in 1931, a new chapel in 1938, the original high school building in 1957, and the completion of a new gymnasium in the mid-1980s. In 2006, a new addition to the high school opened.

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