New Orleans Archdiocese Opens Schools In Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, LA — The New Orleans Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Office announced school reopenings in St. John and St. Charles parishes and the closing of schools in St. Bernard Parish for the 2005-06 school year. It also announced the establishment of satellite schools in Baton Rouge where many New Orleans evacuees have taken up residence and where the archdiocese has established its temporary headquarters.

Schools in St. John and St. Charles civil parishes will reopen as early as Monday, September 12. All schools have agreed to register as many additional students as possible to help students displaced by Hurricane Katrina to enroll in a Catholic school.

The school office also announced that schools in St. Bernard parish will not reopen for the 2005-06 academic year. Students in those schools are advised to re-register in one of the satellite schools scheduled to be opened by the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

One of the satellite schools in Baton Rouge will be a coeducational archdiocesan high school for about 1,000 displaced students on the campus of St. Michael the Archangel High School, Baton Rouge. The students will attend late-afternoon and evening classes. Scheduling details will be forthcoming.

John Serio, the principal of Archbishop Hannan High School, was named the administrator of the new school program at St. Michael the Archangel.

Father William Maestri, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese, said two satellite elementary schools and another satellite high school in the Baton Rouge area would be announced in the coming days.

Father Maestri will visit St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace on Monday, September 12, to help welcome students back.

Father Maestri also announced that many high schools in Jefferson Parish will be ready to open once the civil parish gives the clearance to do so.

As schools reopen, they will welcome back returning students as well as accept additional students according to the following priority. First accepted will be seniors and students of critical personnel who have remained working in the New Orleans area, followed by students whose schools are in areas most affected by Hurricane Katrina and which will not reopen for a long time. The geographic location of the student’s family in relation to the school will also be considered. These schools will readjust and extend their calendars so the students receive the required number of days to earn full credit for this school year. Students currently in these schools do not need to enroll in another school.

The archdiocese operates 108 schools in eight civil parishes, educating 50,000 students. The reopening of schools will be in accordance with various civil parish reopenings and according to the conditions of each school within that civil parish. This system-wide plan is complex and multifaceted and is subject to change due to evolving circumstances in storm-affected regions.

“Our goal is to reestablish Catholic school education in the archdiocese in as timely a manner as possible and to provide educational choices for displaced families,” Father Maestri said. “We are proceeding quickly, working closely with state and local officials.”

The archdiocesan website contains the latest updates for archdiocesan employees about salary and benefits, summary of teacher meetings held in Baton Rouge and information on applying for positions in satellite or expanding schools.

The schools office has relocated and is operating in Baton Rouge at the Catholic Life Center until further notice. Key schools office personnel have reported and are working on assessing, rebuilding and reopening schools throughout the archdiocese, as well as developing many choices for families who wish to enroll displaced students in a variety of satellite school settings.

On September 9, Father Maestri, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, celebrated Mass for displaced students, parents, teachers and faculty of New Orleans Catholic schools, who are staying in the Baton Rouge area. Mass was at St. George Church, Baton Rouge.

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