St. Catharine College closure could impact surrounding community
The school shut down a few days ago after a dispute with the Department of Education.
SPRINGFIELD, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a picturesque campus tucked into rural Washington County, but St. Catharine College now sits empty.
"Really, this place was home. I had a family out here that I got to work with every day, so it's a little bit of a hard separation," said former Academic Dean Carrie Christensen.
Christensen came to campus for the last time Tuesday, just a few days after the school shut down for good.
College officials say the Department of Education wrongly withheld student aid, which caused a decline in enrollment and doomed the school.
"I think it's gonna be a really big impact," Christensen said about the closure.
It's not only affecting hundreds of students and employees, but also the surrounding area.
St. Catharine College is just a few miles away from historic downtown Springfield. Local officials say the school's long history is intertwined with the city and the county.
"St. Catharine's been a part of this community my whole life," said Washington Co. Judge/Executive John Settles. "I don't know a time that there wasn't a St. Catharine College."
Settles says facing the school's closure will be emotionally and financially difficult. He says just occupational tax coming from the college averages around $45,000 each year.
"$45,000 doesn't sound like a lot of money, but to a small county like us, it can be devastating," Settles said. "I'm already looking at how to adjust my budget."
We're told the school is now under temporary management by a third party. Settles hopes something new will move in soon, and many are keeping their fingers crossed that students will once again fill the vacant buildings.
"I've heard that maybe some other institutions are looking at it to open up a satellite campus. That would be wonderful," Settles said.
We're told the last board meeting for the school will be held Wednesday.
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