Catholic Schools Merge in Jackson

It's a plan that's been in the works for years, but next academic year, a merger between Jackson Catholic Middle School and Lumen Christi High School will be a reality.

  • Starting in 2014-2015, the schools will still be separate entities, but will share facilities.

  • It's a move that pastors and educators alike are calling a win-win situation.

  • "When you have smaller schools, it's hard to offer everything you can in the way of academics," said Elaine Crosby, coordinator of the Jackson Catholic Schools Consortium. "So with combining these two schools, we can get the best of the best teachers, we can get the best resources and kids can get a better education."

  • Middle school and high school students will be in separate wings and will wear different uniforms, but may share resources and teachers.

  • "Lumen Christi has tons of space and we're hoping that those kids in the middle school will transition to the high school, it's a logical place to have them on the same campus and share facilities and good instruction," said Father Timothy Nelson, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea.

  • Lumen Christi has plenty of space. The school was originally built to accommodate 1,500 students, but has never filled to capacity. Now, with enrollment on the decline, slightly more than 400 students attend.

  • "There's still a whole side of this school that's not being used," said Crosby. "It's really just a storage room. If you build a big house you fill up all the rooms, but there's a lot of storage and certainly a lot of classrooms available."

  • Parents received emails Friday announcing the consolidation. Nelson says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

  • "The decision was made for the betterment of the children and I think it's a smoother transition for them," said Steve Dunigan, a parent of a seventh-grade student. "It just makes sense. We have to watch our costs, so I think it would take the best use of our facilities and the staffing here at both schools."

  • While educators say the move is a definite, many of the logistics are up in the air. Jackson Area Catholic Schools are asking for public input on the best way to make the transition work.

  • A public forum will be held October 24.

  • Lumen Christi Principal Chris Smith said cuts to the teaching staff are yet to be determined. Enrollment numbers and retirements must be calculated first.

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