St. John’s School may close at end of year

DOVER — Continued low enrollment may prompt the closing of St. John’s Lutheran School at the end of the year, principal Dina C. Vendetti confirmed Wednesday.

The kindergarten through eighth grade school has had approximately 26 students the past two years, down from a peak of around 100 just prior to the Great Recession of 2008.

“We’ve had a hard time bouncing back from the financial challenges that came from that,” Ms. Vendetti said.

Nothing is finalized, as the church leadership committee must first recommend closure before the congregation on March 31.

“A decision of this magnitude has to be made by the entire congregation,” said Ms. Vendetti, the only principal the 19-year-old school has ever had.

While staff and parents are reacting with varying emotions such as “shock, anger, sadness,” Ms. Vendetti said “the over-riding feelings of the parents, while they’re of course concerned about possibly finding another school for their children next year, is the hope that there will somehow be a way to make it work out.”

The school of nearly two decades has attempted different strategies and marketing efforts to boost enrollment to no avail, Ms. Vendetti said.

“The good news is that the kids who have been there have gotten a tremendous education because of the individual attention they’ve gotten due to a low student-teacher ratio,” she said.

The community will be less served if the school at 1156 Walker Road shutters later this spring. St. John’s has emphasized local involvement through projects and outreach, with the current goal to raise $2,100 to fund a one-month stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.

“The school’s impact has come through raising a generation of people who understand the importance of serving the community and creating ones who will stand up and do the right thing,” Ms. Vendetti said.

Students regularly visit the nearby Dover Place seniors assisted living facility and Ms. Vendetti said “the kids have practically adopted them as their own grandparents.”

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