Catholic schools may consolidate
by SEAN KEENEHAN
Saint Cornelius School, 5252 N. Long Ave., will be part of a Northwest Side "regionalization" of Catholic schools, Saint Cornelius Parish pastor the Reverend Daniel Fallon announced in a church bulletin on Nov. 9.
However, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Chicago denied that any decision on merging schools has been made.
After raising close to $250,000 in a 4-week time frame given by the Archdiocese of Chicago in September, a church official confirmed on Nov. 3 that "Saint Cornelius is not a part of the recently announced reconfiguration," referring to the exclusion of Saint Cornelius from the Oct. 29 announcement by the archdiocese to close or consolidate 13 schools at the end of the school year.
In response to Fallon’s announcement, Office of Catholic Schools chief operations officer Tom McGrath stated in an e-mail message: "In line with the strategic plan, the Archdiocese of Chicago has an ongoing commitment to evaluate all its schools, not just on the Northwest Side, on an individual and regional basis. The composition of a regional plan for the Northwest Side community has not yet been confirmed and would not be announced until school communities are fully informed."
According to Fallon’s statement in the bulletin, the option to regionalize Saint Cornelius was presented at the "last minute" by the Office of Catholic Schools in order to have the school removed from the Oct. 29 list of schools to be closed, which include Saint Ladislaus and Saint Hyacinth on the Northwest Side and Saint Peter in Skokie.
"I agreed, and asked that our name be removed from the closure list," Fallon said in the statement. "In truth, I feel that this is the only way Catholic education will continue to thrive in our archdiocese. Besides, I feel honored that Saint Cornelius was chosen to be one of the first schools to enter into this process."
The regionalization process involves "the combining of several parochial schools in a given area into one independent academic institution that is sustained by the students, faculties and staffs, and finances of the parishes involved," Fallon said.
There is no information available as to which parish school would become the host campus in the area, which reportedly would involve at least four other schools. Also undecided is when the regionalization plan will go into effect. According to Fallon, the plan could take several months and "an exact timeline for implementation has not yet been determined."
Fallon assured parishioners that the regionalization plan will benefit the future of Catholic education in the area.
"This initiative is under way, and we are involved," Fallon said in the statement. "That’s a fact. We have the opportunity to help shape Catholic education in the archdiocese for years to come. That’s an exciting prospect."