JEFFERSON PARK — St. Pascal in Portage Park and St. Tarcissus in Gladstone Park will be the home of the newly created Northwest Catholic Academy that will merge the schools of four Far Northwest Side Catholic churches, church officials announced Saturday.
Our Lady of Victory School, 4434 N. Laramie Ave., and St. Cornelius School, 5252 N. Long Ave., will close after the 2015-16 school year, officials said in letters sent to parishioners and parents by St. Pascal, St. Cornelius and Our Lady of Victory school and church officials.
St. Cornelius, Our Lady of Victory, St. Pascal and St. Tarcissus schools will be consolidated into one school — with two campuses — over the next year, with the new school opening in fall 2016-17, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The school will be known on a temporary basis as the Northwest Catholic Academy, officials said.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said she could not immediately comment on the announcement.
Archbishop Blase Cupich has said the merger is needed to preserve Catholic education in an era of declining enrollment and massive budget deficits.
Cupich approved the site-selection recommendations made by the planning committee made up of members of each parish that has been meeting since the consolidation plan was announced in February.
Members of St. Cornelius who served on the planning committee will discuss the decision during masses Sunday morning, according to a message on the church's Facebook page.
While many expected St. Cornelius — which does not have a gymnasium — to close as part of the merger, Our Lady of Victory parents and parishioners had hoped its school would be selected as one of the regional school's campuses.
Several messages of anger and disappointment were posted on Our Lady of Victory's Facebook pages Saturday afternoon.
St. Tarcissus, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave. in Gladstone Park, is the furthest north of all the schools set to be merged, and St. Pascal — where Cardinal Francis George grew up and was ordained — at 6143 W. Irving Park Road is the furthest south of all of the schools.
The committee judged the schools based on geography, infrastructure and "school and parish vitality," a metric that took into account the number of parish and school registrants, enrollment trends and numbers of baptisms as well as annual parish revenues and archdiocesan aid for the parish, according to the announcement.
A number of questions remain about the new consolidated school, including how the two campuses will be governed, what curriculum will be used and how the grades will be configured. In addition, it is not clear what uniforms students will wear as well as whether transportation and before and after school care will be provided.
The new principal of the school will be hired in late fall, with the faculty hired in the winter, officials said. Current teachers at the four schools "will have priority in interviewing for positions," officials said.
The school's permanent name will be selected after "a thoughtful process, involving community feedback and confirmed by the archdiocese" that best represents and personifies the school's yet-to-be-determined spiritual charter, officials said.
What will happen to the schools at Our Lady of Victory and St. Cornelius is also unclear. Those buildings belong to the parishes, officials said.
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