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School plans are moving forward

The Northern Cross

After Bishop Paul Sirba approved the “Called To Be One” plan for Catholic education in the city of Duluth in January, uniting the city’s Catholic schools into a single school with multiple campuses, some of the first stages he identified toward implementing the plan were finding a new president and a new governing board.

The new governing board is in place, and its members have been announced as follows: Bob Lisi, chair; Father James Bissonette; Father Richard Kunst; Father Ryan Moravitz; Father Peter Muhich; Benedictine Sister Edith Bogue; Paul Fitzgerald; Hilaire Hauer; Mary Lou Jennings; Karen Newstrom; Steve Olson; Laura Schauer; Cynthia Zook, ex officio.

The board includes clergy leaders from each of the schools involved in the transition and also includes several people who were involved in the Called To Be One planning process itself, including the co-chairs of its planning committee, Lisi and Hauer.

The new school has also announced some more concrete goals for the timeline.

An implementation team made up of Catholic school administrators and staff reviewed the approved C2B1 plan and organized a multi-phase approach to fully implement its vision. The approved plan is being finalized to align with the decision on timeline.

The first phase — expected to be carried out between February 2017 and August 2017 — will focus on a successful transition of students, teachers and resources to their future sites. The potential emergence of high school grades during phase one will be dependent on the work of a high school task force and will be based on the current level of interest.

The second phase — beginning with the new school year and carrying through until September 2019 — will focus on the implementation of the new faith formation model and the development of the strongest academic and extra-curricular programming offered in the Duluth area. The plan also calls for the development and launch of a funding model to sustain the school’s mission and to retain the best faculty and staff to advance that mission. During this phase, site specific details will advance and form the third phase to meaningfully fulfill the vision of the plan.

The implementation team includes school principals Julianne Blazevic, Peggy Frederickson and Jesse Murray and vice principal Angela Mejdrich, as well as Bob Lisi, chair Duluth Catholic School Board; Cynthia Zook, director of Catholic education; Mary Ann Rotondi, coordinator of the Duluth Area Catholic Schools; Anne Hoeksema, administrative associate; Jenna Kelly, admissions director; and Lee Stubenvoll, director of mission advancement.

The transition will involve unifying the school operations, placing teachers in the new school, finding a new school president and working toward naming the new school, as well as community building and communications.

Additional information is expected to be released in early March.

The 2017-18 school year will begin with the Holy Rosary campus hosting a pre-kindergarten and elementary school (K-4) program and the St. John’s campus hosting a fifth-to-eighth-grade lower and upper middle school program. The St. James campus will continue to offer a pre-kindergarten through grade 8 program.

The registration process is being streamlined to include a common enrollment and application form, payment plan and tuition assistance application. Student applications are currently being accepted, and registration will begin on March 15th. Work is also underway for principal and teacher placements.

Field trip events during the school day are being planned in March for students to come together and visit other campuses.

A task force is forming, under the leadership of the new governing board, to advance the action steps identified in the Called To Be One recommended plan specific to high school programming.

As for the name, the school’s new governing board is already taking suggestions. Plans are for each campus to retain its current name (i.e. Holy Rosary campus, St. James campus and St. John’s campus) in honor of its legacy, history and traditions.