The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge is considering a proposal to keep Redemptorist High School open despite previous avowals that the decision to close the school was final.
Redemptorist supporters submitted a proposal to the diocese last week asking Catholic leaders to let go of Redemptorist so they could turn it into an independent Catholic school. The Catholic School Board, diocese officials and Redemptorist supporters met on Friday to talk through the proposal, but no decision has been reached yet, according to a statement from the diocese.
“The school board will make its recommendation to Bishop (Robert) Muench, who will continue the process of discernment and consultation as he considers the proposed plan,” the statement says.
The situation strongly resembles a similar debate in 1990, after the diocese announced plans to close Redemptorist Junior High School and Saint Gerard Majella Elementary while trying to consolidate schools in north Baton Rouge. Low enrollment had plagued the schools since the mid-1980s, the same reason the diocese is now planning to close Redemptorist High School and Redemptorist Junior High School.
As detailed in The Advocate’s archives, Bishop Stanley Ott relented on plans to close the schools following protests from parents, students and other Baton Rouge Catholics. Enrollment picked back up, so much so that Redemptorist High School had a waiting list in 1997 with 690 students between grades seven and 12.
Fast forward to present day, and the campaign to save Redemptorist again has stayed alive in the past month since the bishop announced the school would be closing. Enrollment for next year was projected to reach no higher than 150 students.
A “Save Redemptorist” Facebook page has garnered more than 3,000 “likes.” A committee crafted a proposal to keep the school open and has repeatedly asked for monetary pledges from parents and alumni.
Save Redemptorist supporters envision taking two years to transform the school so it combines hands-on job training for some students with more challenging Advanced Placement courses for others. Recruiting within the Catholic community, the Save Redemptorist campaigners would aim to begin the next school year with 200 students.
Fundraising money would go toward paying off Redemptorist’s debt to the diocese over the next two years, with all of it being paid off when Redemptorist officially becomes independent.
The school would maintain its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and School, and it would be governed by its own school board. Sitting on the board would be the principal, stakeholders, business leaders, parents and at-large members.
Redemptorist also would have a dyslexia lab and special education classes, two draws at the current school. Class sizes would range from 20 to 24 students per teacher, and current Principal Dary Glueck would remain as the school’s top dog.