Communities should buy schools scheduled to close
A generation ago, I and members of my community endured the trauma of losing a parochial school. Helplessly, we witnessed our hard work and financial contributions slip through our fingers. We thought we were powerless to circumvent the decision made by the central diocesan office. Too late we learned of a similar situation in Indiana where the problem was solved by the community buying the school and going independent from the diocese.
The recent announcement of the 10 diocesan closings rekindled my interest in the proposed action. Retired now, after 55 years as an instructor and an administrator in both the private and public systems, I view the closings as a potential blessing. Private school openings are growing rapidly as people seek more input into what their children are being exposed to and a curricula that is more flexible, including moral training.
The schools that are closing could be bought by the community. The communities have raised the money to build, maintain and pay the salaries of the staff, so it would not be a major change. By becoming independent, schools could broaden their outreach to be more inclusive of others in the community who also desire a local education even though they do not belong to a particular parish.
Being independent of the public and Catholic schools gives more flexibility for a community to work together. Students could be freer to advance at their own pace. Shared services would still be available. By becoming independent, new energy could advance the curricula in innovative ways.
The school closings could open the door to resurgence in education that could restore our educational standing to much better standards. This is a great opportunity and all it would take is a shift in attitude. The finances and skills are already in place.
Peter A.T. Miller