- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie says it plans to move to a single school system from independent parish schools, close two schools and reorganize others in a top-to-bottom rethinking of Catholic education for its 13-county region.

The plan is part of a multi-year process and was presented Tuesday to clergy, principals and administrators and announced to the public Wednesday. The diocese expects to approve a final plan next year.

The plan calls for a single school system for pre-K through eighth grade. It would feature several pre-K through fifth grade campuses and two middle schools for sixth through eighth grades. A board would be established to oversee the schools and a new superintendent of schools be in charge of all the schools.

Also under the plan, St. Peter Cathedral School in Erie and St. Boniface Catholic School in Greene Township would be closed.

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico acknowledged that change presents challenge, but said he’s confident in the plan.

“What we are presenting is nothing less than a rebirth of Catholic education in the Diocese of Erie,” he said. “Students in northwest Pennsylvania deserve the best education and higher-education preparedness possible.

“We’ve explored everything from technology and teacher recruitment to Catholic mission, advancement and enrollment management, always with an eye toward affordability and value,” he said.

The bishop said that once the school communities have a chance to thoroughly consider the plan, “I believe they will see the wisdom in the recommendations.”

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