May 15, 2014, WORCESTER, MA – The Office of the Superintendent of Catholic Schools announced today that after six months of professional data studies and extensive local consultations, the combined representatives of the St. Joseph, St. Louis and St. Anne Elementary Schools in Webster were presented with a recommended new vision for Catholic Schooling in Webster for the future.
On Monday evening, May 12, more than ninety Webster parish and school leaders met with consultant Alan Meitler and superintendent of schools, Delma L. Josephson, Ph.D. and associate superintendent William Mulford to review and discuss recommendations for a new vision for the future of Catholic education in Webster. Each pastor was present for the evening leadership meeting at which Mr. Meitler reviewed the results of the work of the Study Committee and its three sub-committees on education programs, facilities, and finance. Using the data from the Diocesan-wide study, and the detailed information provided by the schools and parishes regarding past budgets, enrollment, staffing and space availability, the recommendation put forth was to bring together the three Catholic school communities in an academy model. Adopting that model would retain and build on the best that each individual school has in place and offer a high-quality Catholic education with programming and opportunities beyond what any one school is now able to offer.
According to Dr. Josephson, “This is not a proposal to close any one school but rather a proposal to bring them together as a new entity. The charisms and traditions of each would become a part of the new academy. Close connections with each parish and pastor would continue.”
The new vision would operate grades k-4 at the St. Louis School and grades 5-8 at the St. Joseph School. The combined preschool would be located at the St. Anne School. The expanded program offerings were presented. In addition to being able to offer a high quality, competitive education, it was clear that a significant cost savings would be realized by eliminating redundancies.
Those in attendance were invited to ask questions and provide comments. They were also given survey forms and encouraged to provide written input on the information they had received. This information will shape the vision further. Many questioned how soon a decision would be made and who would make the decision. Others spoke of the need to heavily and effectively market a new inter-parish school. Some questioned the proposed timeline for the Academy to begin in the 2015-2016 school year. It was proposed that this would allow time to work with administrators, teachers and families to adequately and thoughtfully plan for the future. In the interim, families can and should continue to be part of the existing individual schools because the vision does not call for a closing of any one of these fine schools but rather for a coming together.
There were a number of questions that could not yet be answered regarding the implementation details such as how the three existing tuition models would be brought together in a new entity. Once a decision is made, this is part of the next steps. The proposal and additional information will be available at
An outcome of a 2013 study on Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Worcester was challenging local communities to ask strategic questions about their future: “What would you envision for the future of an excellent, Catholic education for the Town of Webster? What do you believe should be offered in a rigorous, excellent Pre-K to 8, faith-based, educational program that allows students to grow in their relationship with God while becoming prepared to succeed in competitive high schools?”
These challenging questions have been explored by the Webster Joint Study Committee made up of parish representatives and community leaders. Three sub-committees were formed: the Educational Program Study Committee, Finance Study Committee, and the Facilities Study Committee.
The Educational Program Study Committee began its work first as it considered what programming should be offered to best prepare students in our Catholic schools for the future. Excellence has been and must continue to be the hallmark of a Catholic education in Webster. This committee worked to define a Catholic educational program that would best prepare students for the future in a 21st century, competitive, global society. The committee envisioned programming before, after, and during the school day. It identified programming that would include world languages, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), fine and performing arts, robotics, athletics and so much more. They envisioned programming that meets and exceeds what other schools can offer because it is grounded in the Gospel. They considered the professional development needed by administrators and staff that would support the vision. What type of collaboration, sharing, and partnerships among the three parishes would help facilitate implementing such a vision?
It was the charge of the Facilities and Finance Study committees to determine how this new and expanded educational vision could be implemented. What kind of space would be needed for a 21st century education? What would be the space and staffing requirements needed to achieve the vision? What other resources would be needed? The facilities sub-committee carefully studied the physical plants of all three school facilities. The finance sub-committee studied the financials of each parish and considered the various resources that would be needed to accommodate the education committee's vision for an exemplary, competitive educational program.
The work and recommendations have been done with the knowledge that strong parish connections and the traditions of each of the three faith communities are and must continue to be a valuable part of the future. Detailed recommendations that look to the future for growing and improving Catholic education in Webster will be presented to the leadership of the parishes in May.
Each parish school remains an excellent choice for parents seeking a strong Catholic education for children. What is clearly agreed upon by those involved is that a design for the future of Catholic education in Webster must improve the educational opportunities for all children and their families. Education continues to change. Just as the last ten years saw significant changes, a proactive plan with vision will ensure our schools change in ways that build on the success of the past and provide for a future that will demand even more.