Chicago Catholic Schools CEO Tom McGrath has advice for Incarnation families who want to continue Catholic education for their children.
“Start shopping now.”
The June 6, 2018 closure of Incarnation School means that up to 143 students must find a new place to learn in preparation for the start of the coming academic year.
And the search is already proving to be a scramble.
“I’m really overwhelmed,” said Incarnation parent Andrea Covert whose son, Trent, is in seventh grade. “I’ve been ‘school shopping’ all morning.”
While it’s unknown what number of Incarnation families will leave the Catholic school system and enroll their children in public schools, competition for openings at nearby parish schools is likely to be strong.
Potentially complicating the situation is that tuition varies by school and is not set by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Incarnation parents might be faced with higher costs at other schools.
At St. Alexander School in Palos Heights, a little more than a mile-and-a-half down the road from Incarnation, the welcome mat is out, according to Cathy Biel, principal.
“There are spaces at St. Alexander and we are welcoming new families,” she said. “We are open and giving tours.”
Biel said she could not say precisely how many openings exist at St. Alexander (“It’s a fluid number, it changes”) but said there have been inquiries. Openings are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, she said.
“Our school board and family/school association are working on welcoming activities to make people feel comfortable when they walk through our doors,” Biel said.
An open house is being held this coming Sunday at the school, 7025 W. 126th St. from 9 a.m. to noon.
Other Catholic schools in the general area, all with open houses at varying times this Sunday, include St. Damien in Oak Forest; St. Christopher in Midlothian; St. Catherine, St. Linus, St. Germaine and St. Gerald in Oak Lawn; and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin School in Orland Hills. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, nor is The Regional News making any claim of openings at any particular school.
“Anytime a school closes, there are options nearby,” McGrath told Incarnation parents and parishioners last week. “We’ve been doing an assessment right now of what’s our capacity at each of the schools,” he said. “We will actively work with you to find placement for your children.
“I can’t predict where you’ll all go,” he said. “There are enough schools that we’re going to make it work.”