Loretto Closes - Charter School Takes Over Campus

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kristina Susac graduated from Loretto in 1981. Last February, when she heard the school might be closing, she was stunned. 

“I thought it was a nasty rumor and put together the one and only Save Loretto rally that had close to 1,000 participants.” 

But the rally and other efforts to keep the campus on El Camino Avenue open didn’t work. School administrators say the weak economy caused such a steep decline in enrollment that they had no choice but to close.
Trudi Bertolucci - Balestreri is another Loretto grad. Her daughter Danielle just finished her freshman year at the school. 

“When the school property was put up for sale, then we cried a lot of tears but in the end I knew that I needed to let go and look to the future for my daughter’s sake.” 

Like a lot of other Loretto students, that future includes transferring to Sacramento’s only remaining all-girls school – St. Francis High School in East Sacramento. 

As for the future of the Loretto campus, it’ll be turned into a new kindergarten through eighth grade charter school operated by Oakland-based Aspire Public Schools. They run 21 other charter schools throughout the state including one in Oak Park.

Aspire’s CEO James Wilcox says their goal is to help at-risk kids in struggling schools. 

“These are schools where there’s typically a high dropout rate, these are schools that are serving primarily low-income families from tough neighborhoods and that’s who we serve across the state.”  

Meantime, Kristina Susac says she’ll fondly remember her experience at the Catholic private school. She says Loretto helped shape her as a person, teaching her the value of social justice and that women can do great things. 

“It’ll be hard because I don’t think I’ll be driving down El Camino (Avenue) and honking my horn and doing the Loretto cheer. It’ll just – excuse me – it’ll just be hard.” 

Officials with the Diocese of Sacramento say they’ll help Loretto instructors who want to keep teaching at Catholic schools find another job.