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SANTA ROSA – In a letter to alumnae and friends of Ursuline High School, Julie Carver, the principal for the last four years, announced the 290-student girls' school will be closing after 130 years of serving Sonoma County. 

“Please know that I would much prefer to deliver such difficult and upsetting news in person,” she wrote in the letter.  “However, e-mail is the only way I have of communicating with all of you at once.” 

The Ursuline Sisters of Santa Rosa said they have long questioned how to better serve the increasingly diverse population of Sonoma County .

They attribute the continuing decline in the economy to their decision that running Ursuline High School is no longer financially feasible. 

“In order to subsidize the 2010-2011 school year, already the Ursuline Sisters have had to commit $1.2 million taken from their restricted funds for ministry in other locations as well as from their retirement funds,” their statement read. “This is something that we cannot continue financially.  Therefore, at the end of the 2010-2011 school year Ursuline High School will close.  We are working closely with Cardinal Newman to provide a transitional plan for our students and faculty.”

"Newman is looking to offer a co-ed education," Ms. Carver said. "They need to discuss this with the bishop but I feel confident that that will happen."

 The sisters said they looking at this as an opportunity to begin a new educational venture at our Santa Rosa campus. 

“As Ursuline Sisters we have a tradition of looking at the signs of the times and responding to those needs. We will spend the 2011-2012 school year planning the opening of a charter school based on social justice and serving a much more diverse population of Sonoma County.  Young women of all economic backgrounds will have the opportunity to learn in an environment committed to service. Our Ursuline motto has always been SERVIAM (I will serve) and that will be the driving force of our new educational endeavor.  Our hope is that our 130 years of Ursuline Alumnae and donors will support us in this new direction of service to the wider community of Sonoma County.” 

In 1880, the Ursulines of Brown County, Ohio, made a foundation in Sonoma County. They took possession of the former Cambellite College on B Street where they opened a Select School for Girls, later known as the Ursuline College, then Ursuline Academy and eventually Ursuline High School. In 1889 Ursuline College was incorporated with a charter as a non-profit corporation to teach and confer degrees. In 1912 the high school was accredited by the University of California.

In 1956, construction began on the 58-acre Howarth Estate.

In 1963 the campus expanded with the addition of the “Quad” area and the auditorium-gymnasium. In the same year, Cardinal Newman Diocesan High School opened on the Ursuline campus. The two schools began limited sharing of classes and facilities. This cooperation between Ursuline and Cardinal Newman has continued to the present.

In 1987 the Ursuline Sisters delegated responsibility for Ursuline High School to a Board of Trustees, appointed by and accountable to the Ursuline Provincial Council.

 “We realize that many of our present families, alumnae and donors will be saddened as we are by this ending of Ursuline High School , but our commitment of service to the local community remains strong,” said the sisters.