Office of Catholic Education Announces Results of Planning Process for Elementary Schools in Southern Chester County

Tuesday, August 7th

Through new planning initiatives, development of Boards of Limited Jurisdiction, financial support, and enhancement of curricular offerings Sacred Heart and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Elementary Schools will remain open and look to increase enrollment.

Contextual Background

In 2017, the Southern Chester County Steering Committee (SCCSC) was formed to examine the best way to deliver Catholic Education to students in Southern Chester County.  Under the Archdiocesan governance structure for elementary education, the Advisory Council for Catholic Elementary Education in Chester County (ACCC) is one of six County Councils that work closely with the Office of Catholic Education (OCE), and the Executive Board of Elementary Education (EBEE).  The EBEE is chaired by Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, the Auxiliary Bishop who oversees Catholic Education.  The ACCC’s primary mission is to work at the local level to develop strategies and plans to sustain, and grow Catholic school enrollment within Chester County.  In collaboration with the above groups, The Foundation for Catholic Education, founded in 2010, is a not-for-profit organization supporting the EBEE and the County Advisory Councils in carrying out their important work.

Today’s Announcement

Today the Office of Catholic Education (OCE) announced that both Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School in Oxford and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Elementary School (ABVM) in West Grove will remain open.

This information was initially shared via letter on last Friday with school families from the five parish communities sending students to the schools. Those parishes are Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, West Grove; Sacred Heart, Oxford; Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother Avondale; Saint Patrick, Kennett Square; and Saint Rocco, Avondale.

The decision to keep the two schools open was made after a careful analysis of valuable data collected locally from parents, parishioners and other key stakeholders.  Using this information the SCCSC considered how it could deliver services to the families in Southern Chester County.  Through additional surveys and analysis results related to possible options to consolidate, it was clear that families wanted to attend their local school and did not support consolidation and traveling to a new single school location.  The focus of the SCCSC then turned to how each school could be made sustainable.

Additional Background

Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year several new initiatives will be rolled out to support the sustainability and increased enrollment of Sacred Heart and ABVM Catholic Elementary Schools.

  • A Strategic Planning Assistance Team comprised of the Pastor; Principal; Business Manager; a senior administrator from OCE; a senior administrator from the Archdiocesan Office for Parish Service and Support, and representatives from the Foundation for Catholic Education will work with ABVM and Sacred Heart for over 12 months to maximize finances, academics, and marketing.
  • The Foundation for Catholic Education will provide both schools with financial support to move each school toward self-sustainability.
  • School and parish leadership will look to enhance curriculum offerings as well as co-curricular offerings with a particularly strong focus on STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, and Math) to help meet the expectations of the school community.
  • A Board of Limited Jurisdiction (BLJ) will be developed at each school to seek community support.

Already rolled out in dozens of schools throughout the Archdiocese, a BLJ is a policy-making body made up of lay volunteers from various professional backgrounds representing a broad demographic cross-section of the schools and parishes they serve.  This board is committee-driven and will oversee budgeting, development, and marketing.  It will not be involved in curriculum, personnel, or student-based matters.

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