March 5, 2010

Archdiocese submits formal application for two charter schools in Indianapolis

Criterion staff report

Seeking to create two charter schools for the 2010-11 school year, the archdiocese submitted a formal application on Feb. 22 to the Indianapolis Charter School Board.

The application was the follow-up step to the archdiocese’s announcement in December that it hopes to change the status of St. Anthony Catholic School and St. Andrew & St. Rita Catholic Academy to charter schools.

If approved, the two schools would still be managed by the archdiocese, but they would have to change their names, and they would no longer be able to promote the Catholic faith.

The full application will be reviewed by the charter school board. If approved, the City-County Council will consider the application.

“It’s a process,” said Connie Zittnan, the director of the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies for the archdiocese. “We will know whether we have it approved or not probably by mid-April.”

The two schools are among the six schools that form the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies—a consortium of schools dedicated to educating children in economically challenged, urban areas of Indianapolis.

The other four schools that form the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies—Central Catholic School, Holy Angels School, Holy Cross Central School and St. Philip Neri School—will continue as Catholic schools.

The charter school proposal is designed to keep the two schools open in the face of financial challenges.

“The two schools currently struggle to operate with a combined annual budget shortfall of more than $1 million and are in need of capital improvements,” noted a press release from the archdiocese.

If approved as charter schools, the two schools would be self-supporting. They would also continue to focus on the values that mark Catholic schools—discipline, hard work, honesty, leadership and service.

The archdiocese also plans to continue to offer instruction in the Catholic faith to students who attend these two schools. The plan is to develop faith formation programs that can be offered before or after school. †

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