Jan 27 - Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy To Consolidate*

Dorchester/ Mattapan, MA - The Board of Trustees of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy has announced that the Academy will consolidate from five campuses to four beginning in September 2010.  As a result of this decision the Dorchester Central campus, located at 197 Centre Street, will close at the end of the current school year.  All students enrolled at Dorchester Central will be able to continue their studies at the Academy and are guaranteed seats at one of the four remaining campuses.  

Board Chair Rev. William Joy stated that the decision to consolidate to four campuses was for the good of the long term interests of the Academy.    "The economic recession has had a significant impact on our enrollment and the pace of the fundraising effort.   Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy is a beacon of light for families in Dorchester and Mattapan, and we want to take the necessary steps now to assure that will be the case for many years to come.  The Academy is leading the way in educating future generations of leaders and its long-term viability is critical to the success of the community."

Board Secretary Kathleen Driscoll said, "Working with the pastors and the community, in the formation of the Academy, we initially sought to offer parents the greatest number of options, and opened with five campuses. Given the impact of the present economic realities the Academy can best offer its students a high-quality Catholic education by bringing four campuses to capacity.  As a board leadership team, we see the need to make the decision now for the greater good of all the students, including those currently enrolled at Dorchester Central."

When Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy opened in September 2008 the enrollment was 5% higher than the combined total of the previous seven Catholic schools in Dorchester and Mattapan.   Though the overall enrollment at the Academy remains high, it is down 3% this year.   Dorchester Central, which is operating at only 52% of its capacity, has the lowest enrollment among the five campuses and experienced a 10% decline last year. Additionally, the Dorchester Central building needs the most renovations among all the school buildings.

Dr. Mary Grassa O'Neill, Secretary for Education/Superintendent for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese, said "We want to assure the Dorchester Central community that we are committed to their students.  This decision is being made for the greater good, including that of their families, and the long-term stability of the Academy.  Pope John Paul II Academy is the largest Catholic elementary school in Archdiocese, educating approximately 26% of all Catholic elementary students in the city of Boston. The Academy has been strengthened with new leadership, stronger academic programs, two renovated facilities, sound fiscal management and stable enrollment.   We are committed to a long-term presence in the community on behalf of the children and families we  serve."

Ms. Driscoll stated that the Campaign for Catholic Schools continues to achieve great success with fundraising, noting that "to date we have raised close to $50 million against our goal of $70 million."

The faculty and staff at Dorchester Central will have the opportunity to be considered for a position at one of the other campuses of the Academy.  The regional director, in collaboration with the principals, will make the placement decisions.

Regional Director Russ W. Wilson said, "I am thrilled to be a part of what I believe is the finest Catholic Academy in the Archdiocese.  We have an exceptional faculty and staff who are committed to creating a school environment that is rich in its academic approach and dedicated to prepare students for a lifetime of learning.  Today's news, while challenging for the Dorchester Central campus community, ensures that we will be able to fulfill the mission of the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy."