St. Bernard's Catholic School, a combined elementary and high school in St. Paul, said it is closing its 137-student elementary school and adding an International Baccalaureate (IB) program to its high school, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said Monday.

St. Bernard's thus will become the first Catholic high school in Minnesota with an IB program.

Archdiocese officials said they are closing the K-8 elementary school, located in the Rice Street area of St. Paul, because of declining enrollment and "a diminished pool of prospective students in its surrounding community."

The closing will mean layoffs for 13 full-time and two part-time special area teachers and one administrator at the end of the school year. Archdiocese officials said the employees will be able to apply for positions at other Twin Cities Catholic schools.

St. Bernard's grade school was founded by the Benedictine Sisters 118 years ago as an outreach to German immigrants in the neighborhood. The upper school was opened in 1957 and currently has with 220 students in ninth to 12th grades.

Several area high schools either have or are in the process of implementing the two-year IB program, which has rigorous standards. Implementing an IB program at St. Bernard's is, "the best possible use of our resources," said the Rev. Michael Anderson, pastor of St. Bernard's parish.

The University of St. Thomas's School of Education will help St. Bernard develop and adapt the IB program, the archdiocese said.