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Archdiocese pushes back plans to close some of its St. Louis elementary schools

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, Archbishop of St. Louis, speaks to the media on Sept. 28, 2022, after announcing two prominent city Catholic high schools would be closing at the end of the year the Archdiocese of St Louis' Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury.

Updated at 4:15 p.m., Nov. 8 with comments from Christopher Martin.

The St. Louis Archdiocese is pushing back plans to close some elementary schools under its All Things New initiative until the 2024-2025 school year.

St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski decided to delay the plans after hearing community feedback that the original goal to announce school closures in January 2023 for the 2023-24 school year didn’t leave enough time to sort out changing staff contracts, student enrollment and scholarship awards.

“Families, teachers, administrators and pastors quickly informed us that a May timeframe for school announcements would not be feasible for several reasons,” Rozanski said in a statement.

In September, the Archdiocese announced two high schools, Rosati-Kain and St. Mary’s, would close at the end of the school year. There are efforts to stop the closures for both schools and operate them independent of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese is discussing those efforts with the schools.

The archdiocese also felt the school closures should come after announcements about parishes, said Christopher Martin, vicar for strategic planning for the archdiocese.

“What was coming up at the parish listening sessions was we can't talk about parishes unless we talk about schools,” Martin said. “We can't talk about schools unless we talk about parishes. And so it was a little bit of a dilemma with the chicken and the egg.”

The Archdiocese is still planning to announce changes to parishes in May 2023, but the school decisions will come after that. Martin says the number of parishes in the archdiocese could go from almost 180 to a little less than 100, but he says that won’t necessarily mean the same number of churches and corresponding schools would close.

Still, Martin knows this could lead families to make hard decisions about where they send their kids to school.

“There could certainly be some families that decide they're going to switch which Catholic grade school they go to, there could be families that leave Catholic education,” Martin said. “But we knew that prudence dictated that we had to delay the decision so that we can make the right decision.”

Archbishop Rozanski did warn school closures could happen in the coming months outside of this initiative.

“As we prepare to implement changes in the 2024-25 school year, we will also address immediate needs as they arise, and this could include school closures that are unrelated to All Things New,” Rozanski said.

The Archdiocese also said it plans to change its teacher compensation model for next school year to make it “more equitable.”

Follow Kate on Twitter: @KGrumke

Kate Grumke covers higher education and the many school districts in the region for St. Louis Public Radio.

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