St. Michael School in West St. Paul has invited parents and students from St. Matthew in St. Paul to visit what will be their new regional campus next year.
“This Tuesday night [Nov. 15] we are having a site visit,” said Maryanna Charley, St. Michael principal. “Hopefully, they will come and we’ll have some kids around and they will be able to show them around the building and get them comfortable.”
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Oct. 28 that five Catholic schools will come together to form a regional school with two PreK-8 campuses as well as maintain one parish school after the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
The schools involved are Holy Trinity and St. John Vianney in South St. Paul; St. Joseph and St. Michael in West St. Paul; and St. Matthew in St. Paul.
Beginning in fall 2012, St. Michael will host the campus for St. Paul’s West Side and part of West St. Paul. St. John Vianney will host the regional school’s South St. Paul campus.
St. Joseph School in West St. Paul will remain as a parish school.
The future of the Holy Trinity and St. Matthew school buildings will be determined by their respective parishes.
Currently, the total enrollment of the four schools that will be a part of the new regional Catholic school is 494. St. Joseph School has 572 students.
Charley said her main goal is to help the students who will be at the St. Michael site feel that they belong.
She is also soliciting ideas from Doug Lieser, education and formation director at St. Matthew, and all the students about what traditions they have at their respective schools that they would like to maintain, such as St. Michael’s annual Posada celebration. She also asked students to come up with some projects they could do with St. Matthew students.
“We want to be able to combine the two cultures, to be able to combine the two schools at one site,” Charley said. “What is important is how to get the children comfortable.”
The name of the new regional school and other details about uniforms, teachers and staffing will be determined by its board of directors, in consultation with stakeholders, which includes the priests at the parishes and lay persons they appoint, she added.
Charley said that staff at the current schools that will be part of the new regional school will be invited to reapply for positions.
Consistent with plan
The changes will strengthen Catholic schools in this region of the archdiocese by making better use of financial, human and other resources, said Marty Frauenheim, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools.
The plan is consistent with the archdiocese’s Strategic Plan, which calls for more collaboration and efficient use of resources among parishes and schools.
A regional school is supported by multiple parish communities, and a parish school is primarily supported by one affiliated parish. Students are welcome at schools regardless of whether their families are members of an affiliated parish, according to the archdiocese.
“I think the biggest driver is really the goal to make sure that as we’re looking around the archdiocese that we really are looking toward the future and making sure we are being proactive about maximizing that potential to keep Catholic education strong throughout the archdiocese,” Frauenheim said.
“Catholic school students in this area will have even more opportunities than before, with expanded language, technology, music, art, sports and extracurricular offerings,” she said.
Affected families have received a letter from their school leaders and will continue to be engaged by leaders in the coming weeks and months to help them make the transition to the regional school for the next school year. Parents will be invited to be part of steering committees giving input to school leaders, Frauenheim said.
There will be a common tuition schedule at the regional school and tuition assistance will continue to be made available.
Families with questions about any Catholic school are invited to call the Catholic Schools Hotline at 612-SCHOOLS (612) 724-6657.
Last March, a local task force made up of pastors, principals, parents and other stakeholders from the five schools began the shared resources discussion process that led to the regional school recommendation.
The pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul, Father Kevin Kenney, was also involved in the shared resources discussions and will serve on the board of the regional school. He will assist the Latino community with the needs and interests of their students.
Many factors led to the decision to reconfigure the schools, including financial sustainability challenges, Frauenheim said.
Each of the five schools — which are between a mile to three-and-a-half miles away from each other — conducted a sustainabilty review, she said.
The local task force analyzed and reviewed the demographics, finances, facilities and other resources. The shared resources discussion process included an open meeting with school families and other stakeholders during which the local task force detailed the current status of schools in the region, according to the archdiocese.
They also discussed possibilities for strengthening schools in the area through better use of resources. The local task force then developed a recommendation for the long-term future based on what they learned through this process. Archbishop John Nienstedt subsequently accepted the local task force’s recommendation.