The pastors of the six parish schools in discussions to develop a regional Catholic school system in the Washington area announced Friday afternoon that no changes will be made for the 2019-20 school year.
The pastors and the steering committee, which is comprised of representatives of 10 parishes, will still reconvene and discuss the results of the town hall meetings held earlier this month.
In an email to school families, the pastors stated they fully know and understand “change is hard and challenging, and not something anyone of us takes lightly.”
The pastors said they extend “sincere gratitude to our parishioners and school families for your invaluable and tremendous participation” in the meetings.
They also thanked the teachers and staffs for their high level of participation and professionalism exhibited during this planning process.
“The purpose of the work of the Washington Steering Committee was to assist all of us in understanding our current parish school realities and in bringing unity within our communities to strengthen and secure Catholic education for future generations,” the email stated.
The letter was signed by Father Foy, St. John the Baptist-Gildehaus pastor; Father Cheruparambil, St. Gertrude pastor; Father Robeson, St. Ignatius pastor; Father Robertson, St. Vincent de Paul pastor; Father Theby, Our Lady of Lourdes pastor; and Father Wormek, St. Francis Borgia pastor.
The other four parishes involved, which do not have schools, include St. Ann, Clover Bottom; St. Gerald, Gerald; Holy Family, Port Hudson; and Immaculate Conception, Augusta.
An official with the Archdiocese of St. Louis told The Missourian Friday morning that each parish was still discerning the information and sharing thoughts, opinions, agreements and disagreements with their pastors and parish boards.
Maureen DePriest, superintendent for elementary schools for the archdiocese, said more information would be released after her office had talked to all of the priests involved. The pastor email was sent out after The Missourian went to press Friday afternoon for its weekend edition.
The PowerPoint presentation given at each town hall meeting is available on the parish websites.
In all, 11 options were considered by pastors based on the steering committee’s recommendations for a regional system to provide “quality faith-based Catholic education in a financially responsible, affordable, and sustainable manner for the parishes and families in the Washington and Southern Warren County area.”
Two of the three options were recommended by the pastors:
Option B which designates St. Francis Borgia Grade School as the middle school for grades six to eight and the other five schools continue to operate serving kindergarten through fifth grade with enhanced educational programming; and Option K which makes Borgia the middle school, and Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Gertrude as K-5 schools with enhanced educational programming.
Under Option K, the other three schools would remain parish-run schools, but would not be part of the new system. Those students would be able to enroll in the three schools that would make up the new system. Staff also could apply for positions within the new system.
A regional school system would result in one standardized curriculum/instructional program and one school calendar. Additionally, all school-related finances would be consolidated and one tuition rate established.
All administration, teachers and support staff also would become employees of the regional system, and all employees would have to apply for positions within the new system.