John A. Coleman Catholic High School will close Aug. 30, school officials announced Aug. 1.
Coleman Catholic, which served students in grades nine through 12, graduated 35 of its 105 students in June, and had only 74 students, including nine freshmen, when the decision was made to close the school.
Coleman Catholic, the only Catholic high school in Ulster County, was operated by the archdiocese from 1966 to 2001, and was re-chartered as an independent Catholic school by the Board of Regents of the state Education Department in 2001. The building, located on Hurley Avenue in the Kingston suburb of Hurley, remains owned by the archdiocese.
“It continues to be a very sad day,” Coleman Catholic Co-Principal Marie Anderson, who started her career as a science teacher at the school before becoming an administrator in public schools, told CNY.
“A lot of my connections with families, teaching colleagues and students were meaningful. Coming back (in 2018) was a way to give back and hope I could make a difference. We’re all grieving because we lost something very special to us. The opportunity for future students to become a part of that family is lost.”
The closing leaves Our Lady of Lourdes High School in the Town of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County as the only Catholic high school in the three northern-most counties in the archdiocese, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan. Lourdes is located almost 35 miles south of Coleman Catholic.
Coleman Catholic is the third school in the three upper counties to close this year and the second in the Kingston area since 2017. The archdiocese closed seven elementary schools at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year, including St. Mary in Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County, and St. Peter Regional School in Liberty, Sullivan County. The closing of St. Peter Regional School left Sullivan County without a Catholic school.
In 2017, the archdiocese closed St. Joseph School in Kingston.
“It’s heartbreaking when any of our schools close,” said Cathleen Cassel, regional superintendent for Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties. “Parents in Ulster County will have to take their child to another county for a Catholic high school education.
“They put up a valid effort there to improve the enrollment. It was not an easy decision for them. It is disappointing to say the least.”
Coleman Catholic opened in 1966 in the former Academy of St. Ursula with more than 400 students and was staffed by Sisters of St. Ursula and Marist Brothers. The school moved to its present location on Hurley Avenue in 1967.
The school hit its highest enrollment number in 1974 with 590 students, and enrollment remained above 300 students until 1989.
In February 2001, the archdiocese announced it was closing the school due to a growing deficit and declining enrollment. The school had 188 students, and faced a projected budget deficit of $800,000 for 2002.