Immaculate Conception High in Lodi will close at end of school year

Immaculate Conception High School in Lodi, a sponsored ministry of the Felician Sisters of North America, announced Friday that it will close at the end of the school year, June 30.

The decision was announced to the school community in a letter from George Abaunza, the board chair, who cited enrollment issues and increased maintenance costs.

The letter said 29 of the current 34 employees will be let go, including 13 full- and part-time teachers, nine staff members and seven administrators.

The letter said no decision has been made regarding the disposition of the property, which is owned by the Felician Sisters of North America Inc.

The school has been open since 1915.

Abaunza said the decision was made with a “heavy heart” but that the strategic plan that covered the school for 2019-24 was not going to be enough moving forward.

“Although we were confident in our strategic plan, we were confronted with a perfect storm of factors, some of which were not anticipated, including COVID-19,” Abaunza wrote the community. “Even though ICHS responded adeptly in educating the students during COVID-19, the factors that weighed most heavily on us were the size of our enrollment and cost of facility upgrades needed.

“While total enrollment did increase, which included a mixture of students from both public and private/Catholic schools over the past few years, the declining enrollment from feeder schools is simply too much to sustain the school in the long term. The increase in ICHS enrollment helped with the revenue, but the number of students needed to ensure future sustainability is not attainable in the economic climate and demographic area in which ICHS is located.”

Abaunza said the upgrades needed for the facilities are also significant and would require attention in the near future.

He also said donations and grants are more difficult to come by in the current economy and, even when attainable, they would not be at the level that is needed.

“Even with modest increases in advancement revenue, it became apparent to all of us that we could not bring in the amount of enrollment and financial resources needed for the viability of the school over the long term,” he wrote.

Abaunza said the board hoped that making the announcement at this time would help provide ample time for those impacted to plan and make the necessary changes.

“We recognize that there is never an ideal time to share such painful news, and we share in your sorrow,” he wrote.

“The decision to close the school was not made lightly, and we all will grieve the loss of Immaculate Conception High School. As is the ICHS way, we will work together to make sure that each impacted individual finds a new path for their future. In the Catholic tradition, we want everyone to come out of this transition stronger.”