Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy to Close


Catholic Diocese of Peoria

April 10, 2024

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy

PEORIA, IL: The Office of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Peoria, has announced that Our Lady of Grace
Catholic Academy in East Moline will close at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year. The Diocese will
help families transition to nearby Catholic elementary schools in Moline and Rock Island and work to
place teachers and staff in open positions throughout the area.

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy was originally scheduled to close at the conclusion of the 2021-
2022 school year. In reversing that decision, the diocese developed a timeline for the school to achieve a
number of key enrollment and financial benchmarks to determine the school’s ongoing sustainability as a
third Catholic elementary school in the Rock Island Vicariate. Among the targets established at that time
was reaching an enrollment of 135 students by the 2024-2025 school year. However, this year’s
enrollment is 102 students, and a recent survey conducted by the school administration projected that Our
Lady of Grace would lose at least ten more students next year. Over the past four years, enrollment at the
school has fallen from 158 students to 102, a loss of 35 percent.

In addition to low and steadily declining enrollment, other factors cited for the decision include:
• The cost of maintaining the school’s four aging buildings
• Frequent administrative turnover
• Ongoing teacher shortages and the difficulty in hiring and retaining teachers for less pay than the
area’s public schools
• The loss of the State of Illinois’ Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program

“The decision to close Our Lady of Grace is a painful one,” said Dr. Jerry Sanderson, interim
superintendent of schools. “We recognize the impact this decision will have on students, families, and
staff. Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts of school families and parishioners to save the school,
factors beyond our control have led to the difficult determination that the school is no longer viable.”

Bishop Louis Tylka accepted the facts and confirmed the decision. “While I am committed to the mission
of Catholic education and I greatly value our schools, we cannot ignore the reality. I am saddened that
Our Lady of Grace Academy must now close. However, at times, we must recognize that the
circumstances have changed dramatically since the time when a school first opened. While it is hard to
separate our emotions and attachment to a particular institution, we have to be able to consider with a
realistic and honest assessment what is viable and sustainable in the future.”

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy was created when St. Anne School and St. Mary School, both in
East Moline, merged in 2005. St. Anne School opened in 1925, and St. Mary School was founded in

Bishop Tylka noted, “We are grateful for the many years that Our Lady of Grace and its predecessors
have served the Catholic community in East Moline. I want to especially thank the school families,
students, faculty, staff, and benefactors who have sustained the school over these many years, having
provided a good Catholic education.”

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