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Diocese schedules meetings on new Academy school format

Date: 2/2/2009

By Debbie Gardner

PRIME Editor

SPRINGFIELD The Diocese of Springfield is scheduling a series of parent meetings during the second week of February to address questions about the new St. Michael's Academy format for Catholic education in the city.

"I know that people are very concerned," Mark Dupont, chief executive officer of Catholic communications for the Diocese of Springfield told Reminder Publications. "We want to provide parents with all the information they need to make a decision [about their children's education]."

Dupont said tentative dates for the meetings are Feb. 10, 11 and 12 from 12 to 7 p.m. at Cathedral High School. Parents of students from the Holy Cross, Holy Name, Our Lady of Hope, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart schools are invited to attend.

Dupont added that parents need to plan to attend only one of the meetings, and that all meetings will be open not only to parents of current Catholic school students but to those who are considering Catholic education in the fall as well.

"We know that people are going to come with questions," he said. "People will have the opportunity to ask questions at the meeting, and staff will stay after to answer questions as well."

Dupont said that in addition to providing a forum for parents to ask questions about the new educational format, the Diocese expects to have preliminary information about tuition for the new Academy as well as specifics about and forms for registration for the 2009-2010 school year available at the meeting.

"Parents will also be able to find information about the new Academy updated regularly on the Diocese Web site,," he added.

On Jan. 23, Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, announced that the pastors of the five existing Catholic primary schools in the city have agreed to close their schools at the end of this school year in favor of the new Academy, which will open in the fall of 2009.

The current five-school system provides instruction from the preschool level through grade eight at each location. The Academy will provide education for the same age range of students, but will divide the grades among only three locations.

"We think we can maintain some of the care and intimacy that takes place in a smaller school even in this new model," Dupont said.

He added that the new Academy in total will not be any larger than Catholic primary schools were "10 years ago."