Historic Independent School with low enrollment faces possible closure

BALTIMORE, Md. - Baltimore Junior Academy has a wealth of history.  The African American school opened its doors in 1915.

It sits nestled in the Park Heights Community of  West Baltimore.  Several local Seventh-day Adventist Churches sponsor the school.

These days the school is in danger of closing.  Enrollment is way down.

"We now are at the point where we are struggling to exist because to go from a capacity of 250 to 59. We set our budget on 75. We were hoping for 100," said Carol Cantu, Principal Baltimore Junior Academy.

The school serves pre-k to eighth grade.  The school focuses on building character education, culture, values and spirituality.

"There are no bullies. Everyone is friendly. The teachers will work with you no matter how long it takes.  It's easy to make friends and nobody is the wrong type of friend to be with. It's a friendly environment and easy to learn," said Deyontae Cole, eighth grader at Baltimore Junior Academy.

Iris Black was a student at Baltimore Junior Academy.  She returned as a teacher.  She is teaching students the same values she learned at an early age.

"I think the number one thing they get is a sense of belonging and community.  When you leave here you have friends for life.  The students come back they visit. This school was like a safe haven for me.  I grew up in Cherry Hill. I came from a rough area. Coming to school was like an oasis," said Black.

Baltimore Junior Academy is not the only school to suffer low enrollment.  The Archdioceses of Maryland has made some tough choices with the closing of several Catholic Schools.

The Archdiocese could no longer support dwindling enrollments.  Some families don't have the money for a private education in the recent tough economy and public schools are improving.

Administrators at Baltimore Junior Academy say it's a matter of priority.

"I think it is a drop in our values.  If we are more concerned about houses and land, hair and nails and cars and there is a free school down the street. There is a drop in our priorities," said Cantu

Tuition ranges from $4,600 to $5,600 a year depending on if you are a church member.  School Administrators say they will ask local businesses for sponsorship and student scholarships.




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