, Corbin, KY

Local News

July 26, 2013

St. Camillus is closed

Declining enrollment, low funding blamed for shutdown

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

There will not be school at St. Camillus Academy this fall.

In a letter sent to parents of children planning to attend the Catholic school in Corbin, the academy’s board of directors said enrollment for the new school year was “substantially below the threshold of needed income to successfully meet the school’s financial obligations.”

The letter was emailed Monday by the school’s board. It stated that the income projected, along with some large donations, would barely cover the first month’s opening expenses, and “would leave us with significant hurdles to overcome each and every month thereafter.”

St. Camillus had planned on opening its doors for the new school year on Monday, Aug. 5.

The academy, located on a 30-acre site on a hill at the end of Roy Kidd Avenue, would have celebrated its 100th birthday on Sept. 8.

In the letter, parents who transferred their children from St. Camillus to other schools were told that transcripts would be sent to their new school “as those schools request them.”

Parents who have already paid registration, book fees or tuition to St. Camillus would be fully refunded. In addition, any pledge money collected by the school would be refunded, and money raised by charitable events and the school’s recent yard sale would be used to pay any outstanding bills.

The letter noted the school’s board of directors “continues to meet to discuss the details of all which must transpire now. …We plan to meet with the Sisters to discuss any other payments which may be required.”

The Sisters of Divine Providence — a community of sisters based at St. Anne Convent in the northern Kentucky city of Melbourne, located on the Ohio River in Campbell County — own the buildings and property.

Saint Camillus Academy of Corbin, Inc. is the non-profit corporation formed by parents after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington announced in January they would end their agreement to operate the school a year early.

In May of this year, the corporation secured a lease agreement with the Sisters for the school property during what would have been the upcoming school year.

Phone calls and an email to the school asking about the closing were not returned as of Thursday night.

Dr. Jeanne Martin, a Corbin dentist who planned to send her daughter to St. Camillus, was one of those who got the letter.

“I’m very upset with the decision. I’m very disappointed in how the Diocese in Lexington handled the school in recent years. The Diocese didn’t come down and look at the school, or look at ways on how they could save it. As far as I’ve been told, Bishop Gainer has never been to St. Camillus. He came to London to visit at St. William, but never stopped here, and we’re just down the road. We lost parental help, we lost funding, and people started pulling their kids out. Parents wanted a guarantee that it would open in August and stay open for the rest of the school year. But there’s no guarantees in life. It would take a lot of volunteers to keep that school open,” said Martin, who volunteered with several school projects.

Libby Farmer, a London resident who was a former board member with St. Camillus Academy of Corbin, confirmed the letter was sent to parents.

“A friend told me they got the letter two days ago that the school would close. I understood they raised tuition, lowered teachers’ salaries and kept the curriculum the same. Because the decision was made not to change the curriculum, I left the board. The problem is, students have been leaving, and there have not been new enrollments to replace those who left. Over the last few years the Sisters have had declining influence of the administration of the school. There are two few young young women doing religious orders, and the current group of nuns are getting older. It’s sad that some did not want the school to change. If you’re not attracting new students, you need to chart a new course,” she said Thursday.

During a phone interview Thursday afternoon, a St. Camillus parent who did volunteer work for the school said the lack of money for scholarships to the school also contributed to its closing.

“We had a lot of students who needed scholarships, and we couldn’t find the money for it. We asked permission from the Diocese and the Sisters to be called a Catholic school, to help us get funding for the scholarships. We never got it. As a result, enrollment declined. We called the St. Camillus Alumni Association, who wanted to get a Catholic high school re-established here. We had several people meet with them, requesting scholarship money and it never happened. It’s a shame it’s closed. There’s no alternative to public schools in Corbin now,” the parent pointed out.

During a phone interview Thursday, the Diocese’s Superintendent of Schools, Tim Weaver, commented, “We were putting in money to keep it open until the end of the school year. Our last payments were on May 31st, and now the current board is closing it. They needed a couple of hundred thousand dollars to keep the ball rolling, but they couldn’t do it. It’s very difficult, very unfortunate for that to happen, and they had a beautiful campus. It’s really sad.”

Phone calls Tuesday to Scott Webster, a London attorney and Secretary of Saint Camillus Academy of Corbin, were not returned as of Thursday night.

What formerly began in 1908 as Sacred Heart School became the current St. Camillus on Sept. 8, 1913, when the school was established by the Sisters of Divine Providence.

In February of this year, a month after the Diocese of Lexington told school officials they would end their agreement, the Sisters told parents at a meeting they would be willing to lease the building for a dollar a year, if the parents can keep the school open this school year.

St. Camillus announced during an open house in April that the school was saved. A new board of directors was put in, and the Diocese would continue to run the school until the end of May, with Saint Camillus Academy of Corbin taking over the school’s operation afterwards. The lease agreement between the board and the Sisters was signed the next month.

Martin said size and spirit were big reasons why she and other parents chose to have their children attend the school.

“What I liked about St. Camillus was number one, religion. They teach respect and they pray every day. That’s import an to you as a parent. Second was class size. The students got a lot of individual attention,” she noted.

The letter the board sent to parents and students closed with two sentences.

“We offer our sincere appreciation to the Sisters of Divine Providence for faithfully serving this community for over a century, and we hold them in our prayers always. We also continue to pray for each of you and your families on a new school without our beloved academy.”

Farmer said, “It’s sad. It breaks my heart. And as a Catholic, it’s a shame they’re losing that presence in southeastern Kentucky.”

Martin added, “It’s a big loss to our community, because we don’t have school choices. It’s very sad for the staff and the Sisters, too. They recently spent $15,000 putting a new roof on the building. Maybe later this year they can evaluate things and try again to keep it open. It would be nice. I think people are very sad about St. Camillus closing, and we were getting ready to celebrate 100 years on the hill. Now it’s gone.”

Text Only
Local News
  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 30, 2014

    18 arrested in drug roundup

    Suspect wanted for assault

    Laurel service station robbed

    Arrest warrant issued for 1 of 2 charged in I-75 multi-vehicle crashes

    Corbin Board of Education approves improvement plan for St. Camillus site

    July 30, 2014

  • I-75 lane closures Wednesday

    A reminder if you’ll be traveling on I-75 in Laurel County Wednesday — the state Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to restrict northbound and southbound traffic to one lane just north of exit 29.

    July 30, 2014

  • 0729 John Waite for web.jpg John Waite to perform at NIBROC

    Grammy nominated singer John Waite has joined the 2014 NIBROC musical lineup.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0729 gray crash for web.jpg U.S. 25E intersection site of Monday crash

    A woman was transported to Baptist Health Corbin Monday following a crash at the U.S. 25E and KY-233 intersection, according to Kentucky State Police Post 10 Public Information Officer Shane Jacobs.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Laurel School nurses to stay

    The Laurel County School System will keep its school nurses for the 2014-2015 school year.

    July 29, 2014

  • POLICE ROUNDUP: Driver leaves scene of wrecks

    A man admitted to police Saturday that he was the driver in two hit and run accidents, according to London City Police Chief Derek House.

    July 29, 2014

  • London Tourism director up for the job

    Chris Robinson knows the challenges that his native town of London faces – and he’s ready to tackle them head on.

    July 29, 2014

  • Traffic signal to go up in Knox

    The U.S. 25E and KY-233 intersection will soon see the addition of a traffic signal, according to Kentucky Department of Transportation District 11 Public Information Officer Les Dixon.

    July 29, 2014

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 29, 2014

    John Waite to perform at NIBROC

    Traffic signal to go up in Knox

    U.S. 25E intersection site of Monday crash

    Laurel School nurses to stay

    July 29, 2014

  • Cannon man indicted for rape

    By John L. Ross
    Staff Writer
    A Cannon man facing first-degree rape and other charges has now been indicted in this case.

    July 28, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter