The Diocese of Joliet has announced a restructuring of Catholic Schools in Lockport. St. Dennis Catholic School and St. Joseph Catholic School, both located in Lockport, were placed in the urgent phase due to the following trends over several years: the combined enrollment of both schools has remained mostly static or declined; overall structural maintenance needs have increased in both frequency and cost; and staffing needs have struggled to be met amid an unrelenting nationwide educator shortage.
On October 28, the diocese sent a letter to the faith communities of both schools and their respective parishes, inviting them to a November 14 meeting, at which diocesan representatives would share enrollment trends and financial and structural needs data, as well as listen to parent and community input on five scenarios determined by those trends and data:
- One combined new school is created at the St. Joseph campus.
- One combined new school is created at the St. Dennis campus.
- One combined new school is created using both campuses.
- St. Joseph Catholic School is merged into St. Dennis Catholic School, and St. Dennis’ identity is maintained.
- St. Dennis Catholic School is merged into St. Joseph Catholic School, and St. Joseph’s identity is maintained.
Before the meeting, diocesan representatives from the Catholic Schools Office, parish and diocesan finance, buildings and properties, legal services, human resources and communications read the more than 1,000 survey responses, as well as input from school boards and parish finance councils. These same representatives, as well as school and parish leadership, attended the November 14 meeting. They shared enrollment trends and financial and structural needs data and listened to every individual who wanted to speak, taking extensive notes so that every thought was heard.
The committee unanimously decided that one combined new school would be created using both campuses, with the goal of developing into a regional school serving the communities of Lockport and Homer Glen at the start of the 2024-25 academic year. Although served by the two parishes of Our Mother of Good Counsel and St. Bernard, Homer Glen lacks a Diocese of Joliet Catholic school presence.
The 2023-24 academic year will serve as a transition year, during which the two-campus school will be called Saints Dennis and Joseph Catholic Academy. Pre-K and kindergarten students will attend the St. Joseph campus, with the potential inclusion of first grade, depending on enrollment. Students in the remaining grades will attend the St. Dennis campus. During 2023-24s transition year, input from parents, students, faculty, pastors, and parish leadership from Homer Glen will be sought in the effort to develop Saints Dennis and Joseph Catholic Academy into a regional school with a new name and new identity by the beginning of the 2024-25 academic year. This regional school will be governed by a board of directors.