St. Augustine High School and Christian Brothers School have submitted restructuring plans that they hope will bring them into compliance with a recent edict from the Archdiocese of New Orleans that calls for uniform grade structures among local Catholic schools.
The plans could mean sweeping changes, including the addition or subtraction of grades, at the two institutions.
While officials declined Monday to discuss details of the plans, submitted at the end of last month, neither school will seek to strike out on its own to maintain its current grade levels.
Decisions about the schools’ futures are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The archdiocese’s order, handed down by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, says that beginning with the 2015-16 academic year, all Catholic elementary schools must offer prekindergarten through seventh grade, while high schools must offer eighth through 12th grades to remain affiliated with the archdiocese. K-12 schools also are allowed.
St. Augustine, which now educates young men in grades six to 12, and Christian Brothers, which educates boys in grades five through seven, sought exemption from the order, but the archdiocese denied the requests.
Christian Brothers School President Joey Scaffidi said Monday that his school has always sought to find a way to become compliant.
He declined to discuss the school’s proposal, saying he was not certain the superintendent of Catholic schools has had a chance to review it in depth.
However, Scaffidi previously said that school leaders were exploring a way to become a K-7 school.
That will be a significant challenge because the school, with 350 students, is landlocked at its City Park campus.
Meanwhile, St. Augustine will have to either abandon grades 6 and 7 or add additional lower grades to become compliant with the archdiocese’s decree.
A call to the chairman of the board of the African-American boys high school was not immediately returned Monday, but archdiocese spokeswoman Sarah McDonald said the plan St. Augustine submitted also seeks to make the school compliant with the mandate.
McDonald also declined to discuss details.
Catholic Schools Superintendent Jan Lancaster said earlier this year that the new grade-level plan was drawn up with input from all school leaders, and she doubted any schools would decide to become autonomous by failing to comply with the order. Aymond said autonomy would be the only option besides compliance.
The only other school that has had to enact massive change has been Holy Cross.
That school, which until now has enrolled boys in grades five to 12, has said http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/home/8657850-172/holy-cross-announces-plans-to">it will add a lower school at a satellite campus and will accept boys from prekindergarten to 12th grade beginning in August 2015.
About 38,000 young people are enrolled in archdiocesan schools.
Lancaster said about 700 students are in eighth grade at elementary schools, while almost 3,000 are in eighth grade at high schools.
A three-year, post-Katrina study done for the archdiocese by Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., suggested the new structure as a way to have a more unified system and to have all students transition from one school to another at the same grade level. At present, students might leave or enroll at schools at different ages.
The archdiocese said the plan also would help schools remain financially viable in the long term, noting that many schools’ enrollments fell after Katrina.
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