NEW ORLEANS - Dozens of Catholic elementary schools in the New Orleans area will have to phase out 8th grade following a new, uniform grade-level structure plan.
After several months of deliberation, Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Jan Lancaster announced that all Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will have to adhere to the new plan by the 2015-16 school year.
The plan calls for all Catholic elementary schools to offer grades pre-K through 7th grade. All Catholic high schools will soon be 8th grade through 12th grade. Currently, there are 30 Catholic elementary schools offering 8th grade to their students. Those schools will be able to offer one more year of 8th grade, before phasing it out for the 2015 school year.
The shift of high schools offering 8th grade classes has been underway for several years now. The Archdiocese says the change will only affect one Catholic High School. John Paul II High School in Slidell does not currently offer 88th grade, but will have to make those classes available for the fall of 2015.
"I want to offer my profound thanks and gratitude to the hundreds of people who have worked throughout this process and for the strong levels of cooperation we have received," said Archbishop Aymond. "All of our schools will be making some sacrifices as part of this plan for the good of Catholic education in New Orleans."
"Throughout this process, we have worked to ensure that the student experience would be uniform across the archdiocese," said Dr. Lancaster. "Our ultimate goal is to foster in all of our schools a safe and Catholic-centric environment in which all of our students have the opportunity to grow spiritually, academically and socially by providing the best experience and resources possible."
Schools that applied for exemptions to the uniform structure were informed last week that the only exemptions to be granted were for elementary schools not able to include Pre-K levels on campus because of space limitations. Dr. Lancaster and the staff of the Office of Catholic Schools are now working with school leadership on implementation plans, which are expected to be finalized by April 30th.
While all schools will be scheduled to be in compliance with the uniform structure by the start of the 2015-16 school year, those schools having to add or remove more than one grade level will have the option to take a year for each affected grade level.
"If a school chooses not to comply with the archdiocesan grade level structure, it will indicate their choice to no longer be part of our family of Catholic schools," said Archbishop Aymond. "While this would be regrettable and they would be missed in our family, we would respect their desire for autonomy."
To read the final Strategic Plan recommendations or for more information about Archdiocese of New Orleans Catholic Schools go to ocs.arch-no.org.