Mater Dei Prep in NJ will close after 61 years
MIDDLETOWN — A Catholic high school that saved itself from closure in 2015 will close at the end of the current school year due to a sharp drop in enrollment and a large debt load.
In a letter explaining the decision, the school which opened in 1961 said its enrollment had fallen from 300 in 2018 to 220 currently.
“Despite our best efforts, we cannot cover the annual operating deficit of more than one million dollars. We concluded that further cuts would only undermine the quality of education for which Mater Dei Prep is known. The steady decline in enrollment, along with increased expenses and the continued financial assistance we provide to our families has made this closure inevitable,” the letter read.
More than 100 Catholic schools have closed in New Jersey over the past 20 years, including Holy Innocents School in Neptune and Saint Joseph High School in Hammonton. Mother Seton Academy in Howell is closing at the end of this school year.
School saved in 2015
Mater Dei was on the chopping block in 2015 until a group of parents and supporters raised $1.5 million to continue operations as an independent 501(c) nonprofit. Among those who donated was former NBC and MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, a Mater Dei alumnus and Middletown native who donated $50,000.
The school said that despite its efforts to create new sports and high-quality academic programs, the pandemic has exacerbated the decline in fundraising, leading to mounting debt.
The Seraphs football team hired former Rutgers and NFL defensive lineman Dino Mangiero as their head coach in 2016. The team won three division titles and reached two more championship games. State of the NJSIAA. The football program has been suspended for the year 2021.
Reporting by Bob Badders of the Shore Sports Network was used in this report.
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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