February 21, 2011

Bay Area Catholic Schools to consolidate—tradition of strong Catholic schools continues in community

BAY CITY — Following the recommendation of the pastors and pastoral administrators of Vicariate 4, Bay City and Essexville, and the Bay Area Catholic Schools Advisory Council, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, has accepted a recommendation to consolidate Holy Trinity (Bay City), St. James (Bay City), St. John the Evangelist (Essexville) and St. Stanislaus Kostka (Bay City) elementary schools—into three buildings, with the closing of St. Stanislaus School at the conclusion of the 2010-11 school year.

“These decisions are not easy to make,” Bishop Cistone said. “They cause sadness and require changes in peoples’ personal lives. They affect the lives of many people: our students and families, teachers and staff, parish communities and the Diocese in general. Careful, thoughtful and prayerful consideration was given to every aspect.”

Bishop Cistone went on to say: “I wish to assure all the faithful that I remain steadfastly dedicated to ensuring that a strong Catholic education presence will continue in the bay area community and throughout the Diocese. Some may ask, if this, indeed, is the case, why close schools? Unfortunately, current enrollment and financial challenges threaten not only the continued presence of individual schools but the very ability of the Church to provide affordable, quality Catholic education. I wish this were not so; but, it is a reality we all must face. Nonetheless, I remain optimistic that, by consolidating our resources, we will be better poised to not only provide but further strengthen Catholic education throughout the Diocese now and in the future.”

The recent recommendation and approval to consolidate came following a year-long Bay Area Catholic Schools (BACS) evaluation process which identified that nearly 80 percent of all school families and parishioners supported a consolidation. Information collected from parents, school staffs and parishioners further assisted the Bay Area Catholic Schools Advisory Council in determining the most significant factors to use in making a decision about which school building should close.

“It is very important that St. Stanislaus School families know that they will be warmly welcomed and their children well cared for in one of our neighboring Catholic schools,” said Michael Knoff, Bay Area Catholic Schools Administrator. “Our schools share a standard of faith-centered educational excellence; and, while it is difficult to close a school, the consolidation will position BACS to secure its future in the community.”

According to Knoff, there is enough space to accommodate the entire student body of St. Stanislaus at Holy Trinity, St. James and St. John the Evangelist elementary schools. Nearly all St. Stanislaus school faculty and staff will be retained through attrition.

While operating independently, St. Stanislaus School has provided an outstanding Catholic school education for thousands of children during its 100 year history. There are currently 30 preschool students and 43 students in Early 5 thru 5th grade. The total student population of Bay Area Catholic Schools (K-12) is 521.

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is home to 22 Catholic schools with nearly 3,500 students. School leaders, teachers and staff are committed to providing students a superior educational experience which includes faith formation, academics, athletics, the arts and community service. The tradition of excellence in educating disciples of Christ began in Saginaw in 1868.

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