LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Neither diocese nor Sisters can afford the expenses
The operation of St. Camillus was part of a three-year agreement between the diocese and the Sisters of Divine Providence, who own the school and property. Based at St. Anne Convent in the northern Kentucky community of Melbourne, the Sisters have played a major role in St. Camillus since its beginnings in 1908.
Corbin and 50 counties in central and eastern Kentucky belong to the Diocese of Lexington, which was established in 1988.
In a phone interview, Weaver said the contract to run St. Camillus had provisions, with one in particular addressing the school’s finances.
“One of the provisions was that we could terminate the contract, due to financial reasons. Two years ago, the school had around 130 students. They’ve lost students since then but picked up a little this school year. And it cost $268,000 to cover all expenses in the two years the diocese has operated St. Camillus. Last Friday, I met with the Sisters in Melbourne, talked to them about the situation, and they agreed to close the school. They are not able to continue the school on their own, either.”
Currently, St. Camillus has 83 students in classes from Montessori to sixth grade. Newquist noted they have seen declining enrollment recently.
“We’ve had declining enrollment over the years. We’re not unique. Most Catholic and private schools are struggling right now. That was the hope to keep the school going, to have the diocese run the school. As for the property, it’s owned by the Sisters, so it will be the Sisters who will determine what happens to the property.”
Sisters hope buildings, land can be put to public use
An official with the Sisters of Divine Providence confirmed Thursday they’re looking at options to sell the buildings and property of the Corbin school.
“I don’t know what will happen next, but we are looking at those options to sell. The hope is maybe a community college could use the facility and it could make a nice satellite school for somebody. Maybe it could be bought by the city of Corbin,” said Sister Fran Moore, provincial superior of the U.S. Province, Sisters of Divine Providence.
When the decision to close was announced Tuesday, Sister Fran discussed why the school would be shut down in May.
“We wanted to make sure that the parents and children had the time to make a decision to where their children will go to school. And that the teachers and staff will also have time to look for employment. We don’t do things without a great deal of consideration and discussion.”
Sister Fran added the next few months will be crucial in determining the future of the site that’s become a Corbin landmark for more than a hundred years.
“We’re open to options what we can do. And maybe some great idea could miraculously come up.”