St. Bede School in Ingleside to close despite massive fundraising

By Chicago Catholic staff
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Father George Koeune, pastor of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish and St. Bede School in Ingleside, announced on March 21 that St. Bede School would close at the end of this school year because of low registration for next school year.

As of March 19, 119 students had registered for the 2024-2025 school year, falling short of the target of 182 students.

The plight of St. Bede School received attention this winter when the parish and school launched a fundraising campaign to keep the school open. The campaign raised more than $500,000, but, in the end, not enough students enrolled to make the school viable.

Koeune and the parish finance council met the evening of March 19 and agreed that the appropriate action was to close the school. Cardinal Cupich accepted their recommendation.

In a letter to the parish and school communities, Koeune wrote, “The loss of the state Invest in Kids scholarship program created a feeling of uncertainty for the school’s future that could not be overcome — even by an incredible fundraising effort.”

He thanked donors for their generosity and said those who contributed could direct their donations to be used to fund scholarships for St. Bede students to attend other Catholic schools or could ask to have their donation refunded.

Archdiocese of Chicago school superintendent Greg Richmond said, “About 15% of students at St. Bede have been receiving a state Invest in Kids scholarship. The legislature’s decision to end that program was a blow to those schoolchildren and a contributing factor to the fate of St. Bede.”

St. Bede now has 182 students from a mix of white and Hispanic families. Families who have received Invest in Kids scholarships for their children to attend nonpublic schools must meet income eligibility requirements.


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