The Rockford Catholic Diocese makes the decision to consolidate three elementary schools. The move comes after the Diocese reported a decline in enrollment. The consolidation means putting hundreds of students in one building, which also means, staff may be cut. As of right now, they are not planning to build a new school. Instead, they’ll have to decide which building to occupy for the 2019 – 2020 school year
Saint Peter. Saint Bernadette. Saint James.
All three catholic elementary schools set to consolidate into one. Rockford Diocese Joint School Committee Chairman Ed Geeser says finances and lack of enrollment are to blame.
“Enrollment has been decreasing, but enrollment in a lot of, if not most, private schools has been decreasing,” said Geeser. “Certainly [in] Rockford, with less students than there used to be.” Geeser says there’s fewer students to even draw to the schools, since many have moved out of the area. The merger will affect about 300 students and their families.
“It does have a lot challenges because they are older parishes,” said Geeser. “There’s a lot of passion and connection to those parishes. The change is disruptive to a lot of people.”
Lara Skrzypczynski, Son attends St. Peter’s
“I’ve been at St. Peters for nine years now,” said Lara Skrzypczynksi. her son attends St. Peter. “I think it’s very sad because each of the schools have a community. [It’s] a sense of community that has been built up with the families and parishioners.”
All three churches have a separate building for its school. There’s no plan in place as to what will happen to them once they’re closed. Geeser says a decision on that will be made in the future. For now, they’re working to revamp their curriculum and choosing a location for the school.
“If we combine the amount of resources we have and minimize the overhead expenditures and things of that nature we hope to be able to provide more money and resources towards the educational process,” said Geeser.
Geeser says the transition will force the Diocese to make some tough decisions. They hope that in this significant change, some things can stay the same.
“That part is sad. You don’t know what’s going to happen to those people and you want that tradition to carry on,” said Skrzypcznski. “I think there’s still hope.”
Geeser adds the Diocese plans on creating a commission with leaders from each of the three schools and parishes to discuss transition methods.