ALTON, Iowa (KCAU)– For the past 61 years, Spalding Catholic School has been home to multiple generations of students. However, due to low enrollment year after year, families now have to search for a new place for their kids to learn.
“This year we have 25 students at Spalding Catholic School and the leadership met and made a difficult decision,” said Patty Lansink, with the Diocese of Sioux City.
On October 13th, Spalding teachers were told the bad news.
“We found out about it when we had a meeting with the school board and father and they read us a letter saying they made the decision to close the school,” said Carla Walhof, the 5th and 6th grade teacher at Spalding Catholic School.
“It’s always been in the back of our minds because we do have low numbers at our school,” said Amy Roder, 3rd and 4th grade teacher at Spalding Catholic School.
For the past 27 years, Maxine Gaul has been teaching students at Spalding Catholic School. When she heard the news the facility was closing down at the end of the school year, her heart broke.
“Of course, there was sadness and some anger, and I guess my concern is more for the families who have had their children at Spalding from kindergarten on,” said Maxine Gaul, the 1st and second-grade teacher at Spalding Catholic School.
“You go through the grieving of losing a job. I think it was hard the first couple days, but I think as a whole all of us teachers decided it’s important that we make it positive and really bring out make it an amazing year for the kids,” said Roder.
Despite fall only just beginning and spring being months away, Spalding teachers are already trying to figure out where to go after the school year ends.
“I’m hoping to continue teaching somewhere, I’m not sure where I’m hoping wherever god shows me the way is where I plan to go,” said Walhof.
“I’m hoping to get another full-time teaching position, hopefully in one of the catholic schools around. If not I will sub, I’m not ready to hang it up yet, so I’m ready to continue teaching,” said Gaul.
Once spring gets closer, the Diocese of Sioux City plans to help teachers find a new job, whether it’s in a private or public school. Patty Lansink, with the Diocese of Sioux City, said Spalding Catholic School closing is unfortunate.
“We have 16 catholic schools currently in the Dioceses of Sioux City, and I believe this is the first closure, the last closure I remember was when I first came on board and I think was in 2011, maybe 2012. “Our enrollment as a diocese is up this year, so I don’t see this happening anywhere else any time soon,” said Lansink.
Many of the teachers said they are thankful for the community’s support over the years and they hope to once again meet their students in their classroom.