St. John the Baptist in Scottdale to cut K-5
St. John the Baptist Regional Catholic School in Scottdale will discontinue its kindergarten through fifth-grade program, it was announced Thursday.
The parish will continue to operate the preschool program.
Greensburg Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt accepted the recommendation of the school's Board of Trust Administrators Thursday, and Msgr. Larry J. Kulick, vicar general of the diocese, announced the decision to the school community at meetings Thursday.
The changes are effective immediately. The diocese's Office for Catholic Schools will facilitate the transfer of St. John the Baptist students to other Catholic schools in the diocese, including Conn-Area Catholic School, which is six miles south of Scottdale in Connellsville. The principals from Conn-Area, Aquinas Academy in Greensburg and St. Sebastian Regional School in North Belle Vernon were at the meeting to offer assistance to parents.
In addition, the diocese will assist the school's full-time and part-time employees through this transition.
“While this change signals a significant, but regrettable, moment in the history of Catholic education in this region of the diocese, we are all confident that it is the best course of action,” Kulick said at the meeting of school families.
“It will help to ensure that the families of our region will have access to Catholic education into the future and provide financial stability to our parishes for future ministries and services.”
The school has struggled with declining enrollment and the resulting budgetary and debt challenges for several years. Enrollment has declined steadily since the 2007-08 school year when there were 124 students in grades K-8 and an additional 34 pre-K students.
In the spring of 2013, and at the direction of the bishop, the school evaluated how to address its challenges and remain open.
At a May 2013, meeting with diocesan officials, school administrators, parents and guardians, benefactors, and parishioners from the school's supporting parishes, school leaders were tasked with developing a proposal to address enrollment and financial issues and ensure the school's success. At that time, enrollment had dropped to 56 students in K-8, with an additional 16 pre-K students.
The proposal that was submitted eliminated grades 5-8, cut staff positions and reduced expenditures in order to balance the budget and pay down debt. After a comprehensive review and evaluation process, Brandt accepted the school's plan on July 15, 2013, and the school remained open for the 2013-14 academic year.
In March, Brandt accepted a recommendation from school leadership to add a fifth grade to the school's academic program, and he went to Scottdale with diocesan officials to make that announcement at a meeting. At that time it was agreed that the fifth-grade enrollment had to be sufficient to allow for a strong academic program, with enough students to form a genuine academic community and that the school's overall enrollment must not drop below the necessary budgetary needs and expectations. School and diocesan officials had projected a balanced budget for the school for the 2014-15 academic year based on a fifth-grade enrollment of at least 8 students and an overall K-5 enrollment of at least 44 students.
The board members — the Rev. Richard J. Kosisko, pastor of St. Pius X Parish and administrator of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, both in Mt. Pleasant, and the Rev. Andrew M. Kawecki, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, and administrator of St. Joseph Parish, Everson — reported to diocesan officials Monday that just 30 students were registered in grades K-5 for the 2014-15 school year.
After consulting with the staff and faculty of the school and reviewing all of the data available pertaining to the new school year, and with the agreement of the faculty and staff, the board determined that the school could not remain open and offer a viable academic program in its current structure.
Kosisko, chairman of the board, and Kawecki made the formal request to the bishop to close the school while keeping the pre-school program open while using the school building.
They recommended that the action take effect immediately to facilitate the transfer of students to one of the other regional Catholic schools in the area.
The board recommended that the pre-school program be the responsibility of St. John the Baptist Parish, which will be solely responsible for its operational and administrative oversight, as well as financial stability. Evaluating the statistics and financial structure related to this program, the board members expressed confidence that a pre-school program can succeed in the 2014-15 school year and remain a valuable Catholic formation opportunity for the people of this region.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fast-growing Americans for Prosperity opens location in Greensburg
- Court in the Classroom program provides insight for Norwin High School students
- Excela center proposal worries residents of Hempfield neighborhood
- Sale of former SCI Greensburg prison to advance despite lawmakers’ objections
- Mt. Pleasant Business District Authority picks officers
- Westmoreland leaders form workforce forum to help young people qualify for careers
- $7.6M buyout at Hempfield prison site clouds sale
- Police claim woman stabbed husband at their Jeannette business
- Previously convicted of embezzlement, Mt. Pleasant postal worker accused of mail theft
- Jeannette teen, charged with killing another, took ‘selfie’ with body, court papers say
- Latrobe police to form DUI task force