Browsing The Northern Cross

Duluth Area Catholic Schools explore unifying, possible high school

The Northern Cross

The four Catholic schools in Duluth are exploring a new model that would unify its operations into one citywide school with multiple campuses under a new name. The goal is to eventually offer a continuum of Catholic school education from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Holy Rosary School, St. James Catholic School, St. John’s School and St. Michael’s Lakeside School have been collaborating since 2007 as members of the Duluth Area Catholic School System. Over the past year, the Duluth Area Catholic School board, led by chair Bishop Paul D. Sirba and pastors of the four parishes with parochial schools, have been meeting with leaders of the school communities to discuss future opportunities. Meetings have focused on how the schools could further collaborate and form a shared vision that would best serve families in the Duluth area.

Earlier this year, the board solicited proposals for a consulting firm to lead this planning process. An ad hoc committee of the board reviewed proposals, interviewed candidate firms and recommended that one be hired. The recommendation was approved by the full board on April 14. Work will begin immediately, and a plan will be completed within the next year.

“Our goal is to develop a plan that aligns our parishes and schools around a common vision and allows us to begin implementation,” said Cynthia Zook, director of schools, Diocese of Duluth. “We are excited about planning for the future of Catholic education by looking comprehensively at a unified Catholic school that will utilize multiple campuses and shared resources to serve all parishes and families in Duluth area.”

In their current configurations, Holy Rosary School has classes kindergarten through eighth grade, St. James School pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, St. John’s School has pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, and St. Michael’s Lakeside School has pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The planning process will assess opportunities to realign and expand these offerings to include grades nine through 12.

Under the current parochial school model, each school is governed by an individual parish or cluster of parishes and operates with its own faculty, staff, administrator, and advisory boards and commissions. The Duluth Area Catholic School Board and a part-time coordinator assist in marketing, fundraising, professional development, strategic planning and other collaborative efforts.

This new initiative supports the mission of the Duluth Area Catholic School System, which was formed in 2007 to advance the religious education, formation, and service ministries of the Catholic Church and to develop the full potential of all students by ensuring Catholic school education is viable, justly available and equitably supported by Duluth-area parishes and the broader Catholic community.