The options for where to send children to Catholic school in Shelton could shrink come Feb. 3, when Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Bridgeport will decide the fate of several local religious elementary schools.
A spokesman for the diocese, Brian D. Wallace, said Caggiano will announce his decision on how to address the decrease in school enrollment Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. during a meeting with parents, teachers, administrators, and anyone else interested in attending at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.
Although the meeting will spark change, Wallace insisted that Caggiano’s decision is designed to propel local Catholic education into the 21st Century.
“This is the first step toward the exciting plans that are in place for moving forward. This is not a retreat or simply schools closing. There is a lot of support and design behind what he’s going to propose,” said Wallace.
Caggiano will make his decision following a meeting with parents and teachers on Jan. 17, in which a list of concerns was brought to his attention.
Superintendent of Schools Steven Cheeseman held a similar meeting at St. Lawrence School, and the diocese’s vicar general, Thomas Powers, did the same at St. Jude’s.
Aside from not knowing whether a particular school would still be operating, both parents and teachers expressed concerns about staffing changes that could result from a school closing or two or more schools consolidating.
Wallace said layoffs could be a result of the changes, but he’s optimistic the school system will grow as it adapts to financial hardships.
“If there are faculty members that don’t come to the new school, they would be given preference for when slots become available in other schools,” said Wallace. “The schools have worked hard to stabilize enrollment, but if the three were to form a school they would still be considered a considerably small school. The enrollment will determine how many teachers are needed. With more students enrolling, more staff positions are required. I see potential for growth.”
Wallace said the changes will not be all bad news, as the bishop is choosing between two strategic options to address the decline in enrollment and financial woes:
- Create one school with two campuses. Caggiano hasn’t articulated where the campuses would be.
- Create one school with one campus, which would mean two to three of the local Catholic schools would become one.
The bottom line, according to Wallace, is that if you want to send a student to Catholic school in the Shelton area, there will be a school that is both accessible and affordable.