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Published: Saturday, 3/6/2010

Growth at East Toledo school may close 2 others

At least one eastside Catholic school could close this fall as a long-term plan to educate students on one campus speeds up.

One detail is known: The Kateri Catholic Academy on the campus of Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon will expand its middle school to include fifth grade, Emily Barry, vice president of advancement and recruitment, said.

That would leave only prekindergarten through fourth grades in Catholic elementaries at the former parish schools of St. Thomas Aquinas in East Toledo and St. Jerome in Walbridge.

When Kateri Academy was formed in 2009, the plan was that all students eventually would be on the Stritch campus.

That changed for Kateri officials "given [what] our student enrollment is like and projecting what it might be for next year," Ms. Barry said.

"Just the regular upkeep of the buildings is what causes us to look at [consolidation] sooner," Ms. Barry said. "[The] largest cost-saving is the maintenance of those two older buildings."

The Kateri board of directors will be look at three options: Move everyone to the Stritch campus; temporarily move to a neutral site, or move all elementary students to either the St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Jerome building.

The speed of renovations at Stritch to accommodate everyone could hold up a move there: Construction has to be finished by August, Ms. Barry said.

"We see [consolidation on the Stritch campus] as our optimal option, since this is our long-term vision," Ms. Barry said. "If we are able to make that happen sooner than we expected, all the better."

The first stage of consolidation was the closing in May of the 120-year-old Sacred Heart School in East Toledo.

More than a dozen teachers and other employees were laid off.

Further layoffs are not expected if enrollment remains steady or grows, Ms. Barry said. To attract new students - and to explain the changes next school year - the Kateri Catholic Academy will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at its Oregon campus, 3225 Pickle Rd.

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