St Luke's Anglican School in Merced to close after 45 years

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comApril 17, 2013 

— St. Luke’s Anglican School, a fixture in Merced, is closing in June.

The private Christian school serving 50 children from preschool through first grade will wind up 45 years on June 5, according to the Rev. Ron Parry, rector of St. Luke’s Anglican Church.

Parry said the church’s nine-member governing body, the Vestry, decided to close the school on Yosemite Avenue. Eight teachers and aides will be affected by the closure, which Parry announced to parishioners on Palm Sunday.

The school was founded more than four decades ago when the church was located in downtown Merced.

The combination of a poor economy, declining enrollment and ongoing litigation against the Diocese of the Episcopal Church led to the Vestry’s closure of the school, Parry said.

“It was a hard decision,” Parry said. “A lot of kids came through the school. I have a grandson in the school. We will plan a celebration of our 45 years at the end of the year and the community is invited.”

Principal Judy Smith isn’t sure what she will do next fall.

“It has been such a wonderful environment to work in,” Smith said. “It’s a very sad situation. We’ve got a great staff here; we really worked well together.”

Smith said she spent 30 years in public education and counted it a blessing to work in a Christian environment. She has been at St. Luke’s for five years. Juan Laurel, senior warden of the Vestry, said the financial downturn took its toll on the school’s ability to continue.

“We were thinking it’s in the best interest of the families to give them a head start in planning,” Laurel said. “It (the closing) is quite unfortunate. It all comes down to the money.”

Parry said the Episcopal Diocese suit placed a lien against the local church, not allowing it to do any fund-raising for long-range capital needs. He said it might be two or three years before the lawsuit with the Fresno Superior Court is settled.

The school dropped its classes for second- through fifth-graders last year.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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