South Buffalo Catholic Grade Schools to Merge into One Building.

January 18, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 11:32 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

January 18, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 11:32 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) In the early 1980's, South Buffalo Catholic elementary schools had an enrollment over 2,000 students, but today that number has fallen to 601.

A number of mergers and consolidation have reduced the number of operating Catholic grade schools in South Buffalo to just three - all operating under the heading of South Buffalo Catholic School.

Currrently, pre-k thru 8th grade students at South Buffalo Catholic School take classes in three seperate buildings; Trinity Catholic Academy on Hayden Street, St. Ambrose Catholic Academy on Okell Street, and Notre Dame Catholic Academy on Abbott Road.

Starting in Fall 2013, the Trinity and St. Ambrose buildings will no longer be used and students will only take classes at Notre Dame Catholic Academy on Abbott Road.

The merger will make Notre Dame Catholic Academy the last operating Catholic elementary school in South Buffalo.

Sister Joan Sherry RSM, chairperson of the board of trustees for South Buffalo Catholic School, said the decision was difficult but necessary.

"In order to have something, we needed to change before we really had to because once you have to, then there are no choices. You'll have to change anyways, and it will be less than optimum."

Falling student enrollment and rising building costs necessitated the move.

School officials say they are now focusing on enhancing educational offerings at the Notre Dame campus.

South Buffalo Catholic School charges a tuition of $2675 per student, with financial aid available.

During the 2013 school year, South Buffalo Catholic School with start a partnership with Canisius College to offer an advanced program for students.

The school will also give students the chance to participate in 30 different sports, as well as offering a new advanced art course with 2D and 3D computer-based technology.

It is unclear how many teachers will be affected by the consolidation, with Sr. Joan Sherry explaining that they are waiting to see how many students register for the next school year, which will determine staffing requirments.