Granville, Iowa — Officials at Spalding Catholic High School in Granville are considering a merger or sharing agreement with Gehlen Catholic High School in Le Mars, due to lower enrollment. We had a chance to speak with school president, Father Terry Roder, who also serves as parish priest in the three parishes that support Spalding Catholic. Father Roder gives us some background.
He says Spalding has been looking at their numbers, programs, prices, and demographics, and enrollment is getting lower.
He says it’s a common problem in rural America with smaller and fewer families. Plus, he says the cost of providing a great Catholic education continues to go up as well. He tells us at this time they plan on maintaining their own pre-K through eighth grade system and busing high school students to Le Mars Gehlen.
He says they’re looking at the possibilities, busing, combining programs, and what they value. They’re also considering the tradition of service programs, and what both schools offer each other.
He says they’re gathering information from surveys from meetings that have taken place, and are recruiting people from the meetings to address areas of concern. Spalding School Board President Jeanne Jungers tells us about those.
She says some of those include academics, finances, Catholic identity, extra and co-curricular, and transportation.
Donations are strong, Father Roder says, but they have to consider how long they can continue to support the high level of education the students deserve. While Gehlen Catholic is probably in a better position financially, Jungers says both schools have something to bring to the table.
She says they feel like sending Spalding high school students to Gehlen would be a benefit to both schools.
Funds to run the schools come from donations, fundraisers, and tuition. But they say disadvantaged families are also assisted by the parishes in paying tuition.
Father Roder gives us the timeline for the decision.
He says they would like recommendations from the subcommittees sometime in November or December so that they have an opportunity to present the results to the public, and so the boards can make the decision as to if this is something they can go ahead or not. The final decision should be made in January or February so that they can plan for the next school year.
Jungers says the main goal is to insure that there will be a strong, viable option for Catholic education for all of northwest Iowa.