St. Paul’s historic Central Lutheran School closing after more than 140 years

August 6, 2018

Central Lutheran School, which for more than 140 years has educated children in St. Pauls Midway neighborhood, has suspended operations and will not be open in the fall, the principal announced this weekend.

The move follows a rough week during which the nearby Twin Cities German Immersion School decided against purchasing the building, and a last-ditch effort by other investors failed to come to fruition.

But Central Lutherans woes dwindling enrollment, in particular mirror those of other parochial schools locally and nationally.

An effort to save the school via a GoFundMe page asking for $450,000 raised just $10,551 following its launch this spring.

The school noted then that while it once relied totally on tuition for funding, now about 80 percent of students received some form of financial aid, and that more than half qualified for free or reduced-price lunches.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Principal Elizabeth Wegner wrote that the school board voted unanimously to suspend operations on Friday night after investors were unable to submit signed purchase agreements by a deadline set that day.

This sudden turn of events, when everything was looking so optimistic, leaves us all sad, shaken, angry and maybe even questioning Gods will, she wrote. This is normal. It will take time for this to soak in and it will take more time as we go on to see the good our Heavenly Father has planned for each of us.

The school is at 775 Lexington Parkway N., and serves students in preschool through eighth grade. Its mission is to make Christian disciples of our students and to equip them with the fundamental knowledge and skills for responsible citizenship in the community and the world.

In addition to Christian teachings, the school also offered music, art, physical education and STEM programming.

The school noted in its fundraising effort that it has attracted immigrant children from Eritrea, Laos, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Wegner wrote in her Facebook post to family and community members on Saturday that the school would keep them updated about a farewell gathering and that it planned to send them information about other schools.

According to data collected from private schools by the St. Paul School District, nonpublic enrollment in the city fell from 11,064 in 1995-96 to 7,455 in 2015-16, a 33 percent decline. The data did not include breakdowns for individual schools or school types.

Anthony Lonetree 612-673-4109

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