CHICAGO, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has released a list of 23 schools that will close in June and four that will merge or consolidate.
Nineteen of the parochial schools are in the city and four slated for closure are in the suburbs. The changes affect about 4,900 students and 500 teachers.
"It is painful," Cardinal Francis George told a news conference where the list was released Thursday. "The pain is certainly there, but it has to be put into context of the responsibility to go forward."
At least 40 parochial schools were in danger of closing.
The schools on the final list have been plagued by decades of declining enrollment. Some have only a few hundred students.
The closures affected many church schools in predominately working-class Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods on the city's Southwest Side.
"No one really wants to close a school because you're closing a child's world," said George. He said the closings would strengthen remaining Catholic schools in Chicago and Cook County.