“Change can be difficult and I love this building and I love all the adults that are in this building,” said Rockford parent Tom O’Brien.
O’Brien has two daughters, one in the third grade and the other in the fourth. Both started at the Cathedral of St. Peter Catholic School during pre-school. The school they grew up in will soon be closing it’s doors.
“It will be new and there will be some sadness but like I said, I think we have an opportunity here,” O’Brien said. After a drop in enrollment in several Rockford Catholic schools, the Diocese is consolidating its efforts. Four area schools will soon be combined and moved to the St. James location on 1st street.
“At the schools, there’s been some cuts and reductions over the last few years to be able to make ends meet and stay viable,” said Ed Geeser, chair of the Joint Schools Committee. “At some point we decided that may start to come at the cost of what education we are able to put out,” he added.
The diocese says there are no plans to lay off teachers or staff. St. Peter, St. James, St. Edward, and St. Bernadette will all be a part of the new combined school. The schools which offer K-8 classes have a combined 425 students enrolled. Diocese officials blame the low number on a variety of factors, but say outside private school competition has played a role. Their goal through pooling resources is to offer better overall curriculum.
“Coming together we can really put together a curriculum that is really robust and it really can not only compete, but go above and beyond other schools in the community,” Geeser added. With that, they plan to incorporate more technology into the classroom with STEM and language based classes.
“Once it comes together, it’s going to be something that has not been seen before and it’s going to be extremely attractive,” O’Brien said.
The Diocese says pre-k and kindergarten classes will begin transitioning over to the St. James building next school year. They hope to have all grades consolidated for the 2019/2020 school year. A name for the new school has not been decided.