Shared from the 2/24/2017 Catholic Reporter eEdition


Across the country, dioceses are incorporating features of the Catholic Partnership Schools in Camden, N.J., as parishes and parents in hard-pressed urban areas find it impossible to keep schools alive using the old parochial school model.

Dioceses in Oakland, Calif., and Minneapolis recently announced changes in the governance structure of urban schools.

In Oakland, the diocese recently announced the closure of five schools and the consolidation of seven others that will share fundraising and educational resources beginning next school year.

Bishop Michael Barber will appoint members to a board overseeing the seven schools, but they will be under independent management.

Kevin Kelly, a board member of Oakland’s St. Martin de Porres School, one of the schools to be closed at the end of this school year, visited schools in Camden to explore the partnership idea.

“We’re not recreating the wheel,” he said, noting that the new board will attempt to increase foundation and other support for Oakland’s Catholic schools. Barber noted in a statement that the Oakland model will borrow from the Camden approach.

In the Minnesota Twin Cities, the GHR Foundation has contributed $1.4 million to develop a similar model in the creation of Ascension Catholic Academy, which comprises St. Peter Claver in St. Paul and two elementary Catholic schools in Minneapolis, Ascension and St. John Paul II Prep.

The concept began this school year. Ascension serves as the “anchor” of the troika, providing back office management, while the other two schools retain their own principals and names while sharing resources.

The Minneapolis archdiocese, led by Archbishop Bernard Hebda, maintains ownership of the schools’ properties and oversees the Catholic identity of the three schools.

So far, said Chris Berger of the GHR Foundation, the model is proving to be successful.

“Ascension Catholic Academy opened this fall. The schools have seen an increase of services as a result of combining resources. We’ve seen interest from new funders who see promise in the model,” he said.

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