St Paul, MN, January 14, 2011 – Pastors, principals and other leaders at three Catholic schools in the Archdiocese have made the difficult but necessary decision to close their schools at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, due to lack of long-term sustainability. All three schools will remain open through the end of the current school year. These schools are: St Joseph School of Red Wing (43 students); San Miguel Middle School of Minneapolis (60 students); and St. Mathias School of Hampton (22 students).

St. Joseph and St. Mathias schools went through an intensive urgent review process, as outlined in the Strategic Plan for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which was released in October 2010. The urgent review process is part of a strategic planning process for all schools involving ongoing evaluation and greater accountability intended to strengthen Catholic schools as a whole in the Archdiocese. San Miguel Middle School, an independent school administered by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, completed its own review process, focused on long-term financial sustainability, in making its determination.

“The closing of a school is always difficult,” said Marty Frauenheim, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “The Archdiocese is working closely with school leaders to ease the transition for affected families.”

Affected families have received a letter from their school leaders indicating how they can be assisted in enrolling their children in a nearby Catholic school. Arrangements are being made with neighboring Catholic schools regarding transportation and tuition. Leaders at those neighboring schools are welcoming families affected by the school closings. Efforts are also being made to help affected employees. All families seeking assistance in finding a Catholic school which meets their needs are invited to call the Catholic Schools Hotline at 612-SCHOOLS (612-724-6657).

St. Joseph and St. Mathias schools began the urgent review process in October 2010 with the forming of local school task forces. Those local task forces engaged in careful analysis and review of data related to financial management, academic quality, Catholic identity (adherence to archdiocesan religion standards and other guidelines), and advancement (marketing, development), as outlined in the Strategic Plan under the criteria for viable schools. The urgent review process included an open meeting with school families and other stakeholders at each individual school during which the local task force detailed the current status of the school as relates to each of the viability criteria. The local task force then developed a recommendation for the long term future of their school based on what they learned through this process. Each task force was charged with developing a realistic and specific plan for implementing their recommendation.

In mid-December, members of the local school task forces individually presented their recommendations regarding the future of their particular schools to a Review Board made up of archdiocesan staff and others. The Review Board reflected with local school task force representatives on the sustainability of their school in light of the insights gained from the urgent review process. Leaders at all schools which went through the urgent review process say they greatly appreciated the opportunity for reflection.

After these three closings at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, there will be 95 Catholic schools within the Archdiocese. During the 2010-2011 school year, more than 30,000 students are attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese. Catholic school enrollment trends generally mirror that of public schools which are also challenged with a decline in school age population.

The Archdiocese remains firmly committed to Catholic schools, which offer benefits not only to students and families, but also to the greater community. Catholic schools in the Archdiocese save Minnesota taxpayers roughly 300 million dollars annually in costs related to public school education. Catholic schools have an impressive 99% graduation rate.

“The outcome of our new structure of ongoing evaluation and greater accountability in the Archdiocese will be even stronger Catholic schools,” said Superintendent Frauenheim. “We want parents to know that they can confidently choose any Catholic school in the Archdiocese and know that their children will receive a solid Catholic education. Catholic schools offer high quality academic programming taught in a safe and nurturing learning environment infused with the virtues that build the character of students throughout their lives. Catholic school leaders are committed to continually raising the bar to build on our tradition of excellence.”

For more information, please see the Catholic Schools website or Strategic Decisions Regarding Schools (pdf) within the Strategic Plan document.