The Plan for Catholic Elementary Education in Stamford

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind
~Matthew 22:37

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Last week on February 1, Bishop Caggiano presented his plan for renewal and innovation of Catholic Education in Stamford. For Holy Spirit Parish and School there are mixed feelings: the plan seems well-thought out and attractive, but Holy Spirit School will close its doors this June at the end of the academic year. This is a hard pill to swallow because since September 15, 1962, many parishioners and their family members were formed with wonderful memories here. Please God, the proposed plan will begin a new era of 21st century Catholic education for us. More information will come from the Bishop. For now, here is the report on the meeting from our diocesan website.

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STAMFORD—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has introduced “Imagine 2020,” a plan for Catholic elementary education in Stamford that will create a single, new PreK-Grade-8 elementary school in the town.

[On February 1] the Bishop unveiled the three-year plan before more than 200 parents, educators and friends of Catholic Schools who turned out at the Trinity Catholic High School auditorium. The plan includes renovations and new construction to meet future needs.

Bishop presents new planHis intense and highly detailed hour-long presentation was met with applause by many in attendance. In the 45-minnute question and answer session that followed, parents also peppered him with a wide range of questions on the transition, the curriculum and the plan to assist teachers who may not be included in the new faculty.

The Bishop said the new plan puts the children first, but as Shepherd of the entire diocese, he will do everything possible to treat people justly and fairly in the transition process.

The four schools involved in the plan to create a single flagship school are Holy Spirit School, Our Lady Star of the Sea School, St. Cecilia School, and Trinity Catholic Middle School. He said that all of the students currently enrolled in the four schools will have a place in the new school.

The Bishop invited parents and students to join in a “School Naming Process” by submitting nominations, which will be voted on and announced at the end of March. He also asked for parents participation on committees that will explore a new uniforms and other issues.

In his summary of the process, the Bishop walked parents through data on the current schools whose enrollment slipped from 750 students in 2011 to 595 students in 2016. The schools also ran a combined $300,000 deficit this year.

He said creation of a single school will immediately eliminate the deficit and make more financial resources available. It will also hold down tuition costs and reduce current registration fees from $300 per child to $200 for an entire family.

The Bishop also announced plans for a new independent, Diocesan-sponsored governing board. Under this structure, the Bishop will retain full authority over the school, but will delegate decisions about operations, finances, facilities, marketing and other concerns to the board.

The Bishop said he wanted a plan that “honored the past” and the heritage of Catholic education in Stamford, but also created a 21st century approach to learning with the latest technology and curriculum

The plan is the result of a more than 18-month study process guided by a Planning Group with members of the School Advisory Boards, and area individuals with expertise in education, facilities, and planning. The process also involved parents through Listening Sessions and their service on committees.

“It has been a long road and I am deeply grateful for your cooperation and patience,” the Bishop said to parents and planning group members. “I’ve asked a lot of you, and you have walked with me for over a year in this process.”

The Bishop said he was very moved by the “transformation in thinking” during the planning process in which planning group members put aside their love for the individual schools in order to do the best thing for the children.

Under the plan the Holy Spirit School and Our Lady Star of the Seas students will come to St. Cecilia School and Trinity Catholic Middle School beginning in September 2017. Students in Pre-K-Grade 5 will study on the St. Cecilia campus, and Grades 6-8 will attend classes on the Trinity Middle School campus.

During phase one of the transition, construction will begin at the lower level of Trinity Catholic High School to reconfigure it as a state-of-the-art middle school. The high school will also benefit from the renovation of its unused third floor into a media center and additional classroom space.

Phase 2 of the plan will begin in the 2018-19 school year with the 6th-8th Grades moving to the new location within the Trinity High School building. The lower grades will remain at the St. Cecilia campus while construction and renovations begin on the Trinity Middle School building with an estimated completion date of September 2020.

This current middle school building will become the new location for the Pre-K through 5th Grades . Long-term plans for the lower school campus also include a designated gym and cafeteria.

Under Phase 3 of the plan, the elementary and early learning center will be relocated from St. Cecilia to renovated and newly built space in the current middle school building. All students PreK-8 will be house on the same 19-acre Trinity campus in the year 2020.

The Bishop said that the planning group undertook complete evaluations of the schools to determine which facility would best allow for Catholic education to not only continue, but grow. Their early findings and recommendations were reported in the November issue of Fairfield County Catholic and shared with parents through a listening session in Stamford.

Assessments of the buildings and grounds themselves were done to determine which school would have enough space to accommodate the number of students as it is currently configured today, and would also allow for growth. The age and condition of the buildings were noted. Busing and transportation needs of the students were also considered. A zip code analysis was also done to see map out where students are residing and where they are choosing to attend school.

Throughout the remainder of the current school year the facilities at Trinity Catholic Middle School and St. Cecilia School will remain as they are.

Based on current enrollment, the diocese is anticipating two classes of each grade with an average of 25 students in each class. Students from the four schools will be blended into the new class structure.

There will be one Head of School for the entire campus and principals for Pre-K, elementary and middle schools.
During the question and answer session, Dr. Steven Cheeseman, Superintendent of School, said plans also call for social events prior to the new school year to bring the schools together and offer the students the opportunity to meet each other. One is a Spring Concert in which all of the schools will come together on one occasion to perform. There will also be Open Houses planned at both campuses.

“As we get closer to the start of the school year, there will be a Picnic or BBQ organized so that students and families can meet each other,” he said.

Part of the over plan includes steps to facilitate the transition of teachers into other Catholic schools. The Diocesan Human Resources Department and the Office of the Superintendent will be holding faculty and staff meetings at each school location to discuss with the employees the process for which they can apply and be rehired for the new school or placed on a transfer list for other schools.

There were registration forms available at the February 1st meeting and there are also hard-copies available at each of the schools. Parents can download a form from the website

The tuition rates will not change for the 2017-2018 School Year. The elementary grades K-5 will remain at $6,580 and the middle school grades 6-8 will remain at $7,200. The one change will be that the Registration Fee will be reduced to $200 and that rate will be per family, not per child.

The Diocese has set up a hotline for anyone to call in and have their specific questions answered. The number is 203-209-2894. We have also designed a website for families who want more information. There you can find information about the new school as well as a registration link. The web address is



Heart, Soul and Mind

Monsignor Royal's weekly column as featured in our bulletin.


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