The Office of Catholic Education and Formation and episcopal vicars will consult with some pastors in October about the long-term sustainability of the pastors’ parish elementary schools as part of the All Things New process. Pastors will then be asked to share and consider information with parish and school leadership before returning recommendations about their schools to Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski.
Announcements of most of the school changes are planned for early Advent, to take effect for the 2024-25 school year. But because many parishes with schools are in various states of change related to All Things New, it is possible that some school recommendations may come later, said Father Chris Martin, vicar for parish mission and vitality.
While school decisions initially were planned for last fall, the archdiocese postponed changes to elementary schools under All Things New until the 2024-25 school year, opting to wait until after parish reconfigurations were announced to make school decisions. Most Catholic elementary schools in the archdiocese operate under a parish governance model, meaning they are ministries of a parish.
The process of consulting with pastors whose schools are facing challenges is a typical step in evaluating schools’ viability, including asking pastors to make recommendations about their schools to the archbishop. About one-third of parish elementary schools will be involved in the consultation process this fall.
This year, more than 19,000 students are attending more than 80 archdiocesan elementary schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which includes 10 counties and the City of St. Louis. According to last year’s enrollment data, as a whole, Catholic elementary schools were at less than 65% of their capacity.
Throughout the All Things New process, the Office of Catholic Education and Formation has examined schools’ student enrollment numbers, demographic trends, financial stability, parish subsidies and proximity to other parish elementary schools. School workbooks with each school’s enrollment and financial data were published last fall at allthingsnew.archstl.org under Planning Process - Catholic Education.
In October 2022, current Catholic elementary school families had the chance to participate in a survey that included specific questions about each school’s governance, tuition, class sizes, travel time and teacher compensation, among other topics. More than 10,000 parents and guardians and about 1,900 teachers responded.
Gathering feedback from school families and parishioners this fall will be left to individual pastors’ discretion.