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Bishop launches new elementary school plan for Shelton
| February 04, 2017


TRUMBULL—More than 250 parents filled the St. Joseph High School auditorium tonight to hear Bishop Frank J. Caggiano announce plans to create a single, new Catholic elementary school for the Shelton-Monroe area.

The new school will be formed on the present St. Lawrence School campus in Huntington by merging students from St. Lawrence, St. Jude School in Monroe and St. Joseph School in Shelton.

The St. Lawrence facility was chosen because it can accommodate up to 400 students and has room for expansion, the Bishop said.

“I am the spiritual father of every young child in the Diocese—that is my apostolic responsibility” said the Bishop who vowed to pass on the gift of Catholic education to the next generation.

“This is all about our children and we are all partners in passing this great gift on. Our goal is not just that Catholic education survive but that it prospers and is vibrant.”

The Bishop said the quality of Catholic education is spectacular, but what makes the schools unique is that they’re Catholic and “children who come here will know who created them, who calls them to holiness, and who will give them eternal life. We are not private schools, we are Catholic schools.”

During his 90-minute presentation, many of the Bishop’s observations were met with applause, but parents also had a wide range of questions about how the new school would come together. In particular many were concerned with class size when the schools combine and how the transition would affect their children.

The school, which will open in September 2017, will be re-named and a new board will be formed in order to involve representatives from all three parishes.

The Bishop said that classes would not exceed 25 students and that new learning models and other programs would help many students adjust to the new environment.

In a detailed Powerpoint presentation, the Bishop said that declining enrollments and growing deficit prompted the decision.

The total enrollment of all three schools is 377 students, representing a steady decline from a 2012 population of over 600 students. They have also accumulated a combined deficit of more than $500,000 this year.

“For the money we now have to put into deficits, imagine what we could do if we could put that back into our schools and our children,” he said.

The Bishop said that 65 percent of the students attending the three schools reside in Shelton, and that 31 percent of the students attending St. Jude School in Monroe also live in Shelton.

The Bishop’s decision was based on the recommendations of the Shelton area schools’ planning group that assessed facilities, enrollment, finance, and demographic trends in all three schools. The planning groups members were nominated by parishes and schools based on their expertise and commitment to Catholic education.

During the talk the Bishop pointed out that a large number of graduates from all three schools go on to St. Joseph High School. Based on data from the last four graduating classes, the planning student found that 32 percent of St. Joseph students 36 percent of St. Jude students and 53 percent of St. Lawrence graduates have enrolled in St. Joseph High School.

The Bishop began his presentation with a summary of the strategic planning process which began in December 2015, when then Superintendent of Schools Sister Mary Grace Walsh sent a letter to parents informing them of the need to address challenges and plan for the future.

He said that the Education Commission, which he formed in 2014, quickly saw that many schools were experiencing problems beyond their ability to solve on their own due to demographic shifts and other challenges.

The Bishop said under the new governance board model, the Bishop and the diocese serve as primary sponsors or members, while the Board of Directors becomes the new school’s governing body, responsible for concerns such as finance, marketing, enrollment and operations.

Pastors from the three parishes will join the Bishop as members of the sponsoring board in order to better connect all three parishes to the new school and to honor the tradition and history of the original schools.

The new board and school leadership will be announced by March 1, and the combined new faculty will be announced by April 1.

The Diocesan Human Resources Department and the Office of the Superintendent will be holding faculty and staff meetings at each school location to discuss with the employees the process for which they can apply be rehired for the new school or placed on a transfer list for other schools. Every effort will be made to give priority to teachers and staff displaced by the merging of schools as other positions open in the diocesan system, he said.

The Bishop said he hopes that the naming process will unify the new school by inviting students to submit names and parents to vote on nominations online. Based on the results, the Bishop will announce the new name by the end of March.

He said the new school will incorporate the best programs currently offered by the three individual school including high school and university partnerships, STEM, and integrated technology along with extracurricular activities such as robotics, drama, lego, sports and National Junior Honor Society.

The combination of the three schools will also allow for more differentiated instruction and new models of teaching such as blended learning that will make classrooms more innovative and contemporary. Likewise athletic and arts programs will improve with the larger pool of students with varying interests, he said.

He asked parents to consider serving on planning committees for marketing, finance, Catholic identity, development, facilities and academics.

The tuition rates for the 2017-2018 School Year will be $6,000 for one child, $10,700 for two children and $14,200 for 3 Children. children. Three and four-year old PreK tuition will be $3,400 for three full days and $6,000 for five full days. The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, which distributed $2.2 million in aid last year, will take into account any adjustment in tuitions that may affect some families.

Dr. Steven Cheeseman said a few events are in the planning stage too help bring the schools together and offer the students the opportunity to meet each other. There will also be Open Houses planned for the new school. There will be a Picnic or BBQ organized so that students and families can meet each other before the start of the new school year.

The Bishop asked parents “to be patient and to be active” by registering their children as soon as possible and serving on the planning committees. He thanked them for their great faith and the sacrifices they make so that their children can attend Catholic Schools

“I’m willing to walk with you on this journey to give birth to the new academy, and I hope you are willing to walk with me,” he said.

There will be priority registration for current families will run until February 15, after which it opens to new students. Application for Bishop’s Scholarship Fund begins February 1 and runs through April 1.

The diocese has set up a hotline for anyone to call in and have their specific questions answered. The number is 203.209.2894. Parents can visit online to get more information and a link to registration: www.ournewschool2017.org


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Shelton-Monroe school
Bishop's Powerpoint Presentation

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