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The Suburbanite
  • Bishop open to appeal on school closings

  • Monsignor Lewis Gaetano told concerned parents and parishioners Monday they have an “opportunity to seize the day.” Bishop George V. Murry will allow Holy Cross Academy schools to appeal their complete or partial closure, he said.
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  • Monsignor Lewis Gaetano told concerned parents and parishioners Monday they have an "opportunity to seize the day."
    Bishop George V. Murry will allow Holy Cross Academy schools to appeal their complete or partial closure, he said.
    "He is certainly willing to enter into that appeal process," Gaetano said to a room of about 200 people at St. Peter Campus at 702 Cleveland Ave. NW.
    Holy Cross Academy plans to close St. Joseph and transition St. Peter and St. Louis schools into Family Preschool Centers at the start of the 2014 school year. The Transition for Growth plan has sparked objection since it was announced earlier this month.
    In the fourth meeting to discuss concerns, many were the same. Parents questioned the loss of a Catholic K-12 school in downtown Canton and how remaining schools will maintain a quality education with larger class sizes. But news of the appeal was met with interest.
    "I was shocked," said parent and parishioner Nicole Cilona, who first learned of the possibility for appeal in a Sunday night meeting at St. Louis in Louisville.
    Cilona said the appeal is a positive development, but she realizes it still can be rejected. She also felt that there were unanswered questions about the process and logic behind the initial decision.
    "It's like we couldn't get a straight answer," Cilona said after the meeting.
    Doug Palmer, a history professor at Walsh University, said he also hopes an appeal will be successful.
    "I understand the numbers," he said. "But I hope the church finds a way to look beyond."
    Gaetano said "demographic realities" have caused the school system to run on a deficit that isn't sustainable. There are not enough people to support the academy's 11 campuses, but he said administrators are willing to listen to suggestions, such as combining Canton's two schools, St. Joseph and St. Peter.
    "I think the board is willing to listen to anything," he said.
    The appeal process itself still is being designed by the academy, diocese and bishop. Gaetano said each school likely will appeal separately and be responsible for a leadership committee that presents plans for funding, enrollment and recruitment, and quality.
    There is not yet a timeline for the appeals process, but Gaetano said he hopes to begin "sooner rather than later."
    Reach Kelly at 330-580-8323 or
    kelly.byer@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @kbyerREP