By Mary O’KEEFE
Parents at Holy Redeemer and St. James the Less Catholic Church were surprised to find that their two schools would be merging. St. James would accommodate kindergarten through fourth grade and Holy Redeemer would have students from fifth through eighth grade.
The reason given at a meeting Wednesday night with Father Ed Dover was financial. Due to tough economic times and declining enrollment the schools would have to go to this new system or one would have to be closed down. Dover is the priest for both St. James and Holy Redeemer Catholic churches.
“He just dropped [the change] on us at a meeting last week,” said Holy Redeemer parent Nigel Burns. “It came as a complete shock. No one ever told us the schools were doing so badly.”
That sentiment carried through at Wednesday’s meeting where parents questioned why they weren’t told earlier that the schools were in trouble.
“We may have been able to do something,” Burns said.
He added he had approached Dover earlier with fundraising ideas but had not heard back from him. Burns is an active, involved parent at the school. He is a member of the PTO, the parent organization similar to public school’s PTA, a Cub Scout Master and the debate coach. He also volunteers at the school functions and organized the school’s traffic safety measures. Being so involved in the school he was surprised that neither he nor other parents were consulted about the change.
At the meeting Dover stated the enrollment at St. James was 150 and 170 at Holy Redeemer. By splitting enrollment, it would increase the number of students at both schools and keep them open.
“Teachers will be laid off,” Burns said. He added Holy Redeemer has a good reputation and is academically sound. He worried about the teachers that would be let go.
Burns was also told tuition would be increasing and that the traditional discounts for siblings enrolled at the school would also be discontinued. He added that if the school were in trouble he would like to have had a choice in the solution.