CHICAGO — Four Northwest Side Catholic elementary schools will merge, school officials said Friday.
In an email, officials at St. Cornelius, Our Lady of Victory, St. Pascal and St. Tarcissus informed parents and parishioners that they will take part in the Chicago Archdiocese's plan to consolidate their schools. The merger will take place starting during the 2016-17 school year.
"Our schools were selected for this initiative because of the economics of falling enrollments and rising operating costs that cannot be subsidized by the archdiocese in the long-term," officials said.
"While we are struggling financially, we believe that collectively we can help create this new sustainable legacy for Catholic education in Chicago," officials said.
In January, the archdiocese invited six Northwest Side elementary and junior high schools to participate in the consolidation. Each school was given until Feb. 13 to make a decision on the plan to merge. The deadline was later extended to Friday.
The Archidocese believes a regionalization plan will strengthen its schools, both financially and educationally.
The merger will help "build a sustainable system that ensures a transformative Catholic education in this region of Chicago," said Archbishop Blase Cupich.
Earlier this month, St. Thecla and St. Constance officials informed parents and parishioners they would not be taking part in the merger.
The Rev. Gene Dyer from St. Thecla acknowledged the decision to opt out was made clear by overwhelming support from alumni, students and parishioners.
"With our continued focus on our religious education, the highest academic standards, student enrichment and emotional well-being at the heart of all our decisions, I am confident we will continue to succeed," Dyer said.
Over the next few weeks, officials from each parish participating in the merger will form local planning groups to assess school facilities, academics, extracurricular activities, as well as school and parish support.
Each group will work with a regional planning group to develop proposals for the archbishop and the Archdiocesan School Board for consideration.
"It is a big responsibility, and it will be challenging, but we are confident in our capabilities as we collaborate with the archdiocese in this role," officials said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: