Catholic Free Press

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  • May
  • 14

Webster schools put forward plan for consolidation

Posted By May 14, 2014 | 12:01 pm | Lead Story #1
Students from St. Anne School participate in Catholic Schools Week activity.
Students from St. Anne School participate in Catholic Schools Week activity.

By William T. Clew

WEBSTER – A plan for what is being called “a new vision for the future of Catholic education in Webster” has been released by the diocesan office of the superintendent of Catholic schools.
The plan calls for classes from kindergarten through fourth grade to be held at St. Louis School at 48 Negus St., classes from fifth through eighth grade to be held at St. Joseph School at 47 Whitcomb St. and preschool at St. Anne School on Day Street. The change would go into effect in the 2015-2016 school year.
The plan was arrived at after six months of professional data studies and extensive local consultations by the Webster Joint Study Committee made up of parish representatives and community leaders, according to the school department. It still needs the approval of Bishop McManus.
The three schools now serve children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
According to a data study for diocesan schools, conducted by Meitler Consultants of Milwaukee, updated in October 2013: St. Louis Elementary School had a kindergarten through grade 8 enrollment of 128; St. Anne, 125 and St. Joseph, 114.  By contrast, in the 2007-08 school year, St. Louis Elementary School had a K-8 enrollment of 217; St. Anne, 191 and St. Joseph, 94. Pre-K enrollment figures were not included in the early study, according to a school department official.
Last Monday, more than 90 Webster parish and school leaders met with Alan Meitler of Meitler Consultants, Superintendent Josephson and Associate Superintendent William J. Mulford to review and discuss the plan for Webster, according to a press release from the diocese and the school department.
Those at the meeting asked questions and provided comment, the release said. They also received survey forms, to be returned by May 27, according to Superintendent Josephson. They were asked to provide written input on the information they received at the meeting. “We are looking for feedback,” Superintendent Josephson said.
“There were a number of questions that could not yet be answered regarding the implementation details such as how the three existing tuition models would be brought together in a new entity,” according to the press release. “Once a decision is made, this is part of the next step.”
The joint study committee, which includes the pastors of St. Louis, St. Joseph’s and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes where the schools are located, will review the survey forms, reconvene and make recommendations to Bishop McManus. The bishop has final say on the plan.
“This is not a proposal to close any one school but rather a proposal to bring them together as a new entity. The charisms and traditions of each would become a part of the new academy. Close connections with each parish and pastor would continue,” Superintendent Josephson said.
She said that if the plan is approved the new academy, which will have a new name, will offer “far more” than can be offered now.
Bishop McManus commissioned Meitler Consultants of Milwaukee to conduct a diocesan-wide data study of Catholic education last year. The study began in February 2013, and ended in the fall. It looked at enrollment, finances, diversity, class sizes, capacity of buildings, and public and parish demographics, among other things. (The Meitler data study is available online at worcesterdiocese.org/schools.)
In January this year, Superintendent Josephson told The Catholic Free Press that  “the study revealed that the Webster schools serve completely overlapping target families and that the redundancy of services and programs are both expensive and might be inefficient.”