John Paul the Great Catholic High School juniors Matthew Wagner, left, and Harley Hopster and freshman Anna Buechler prayered with their schoolmates last September. At a meeting Sunday, the school’s board of directors decided that as a result of low enrollment and low community interest the 3-year-old high school will no longer offer traditional education. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
JASPER — John Paul the Great Catholic High School will close its doors next school year but will still exist as a means to support local Catholic education.
At a meeting Sunday, the school’s board of directors decided that as a result of low enrollment and low community interest the 3-year-old high school will no longer offer traditional education.
According to a press release, “John Paul the Great will deliver transitional services for the 2012-13 school year. This assistance includes various educational models including cooperative education, virtual classrooms and logistical support for students that elect to attend area Catholic schools.”
The school opened in the fall of 2009 with nine students — seven freshmen and two sophomores. Last school year, the school added five freshmen. Another new freshman class was added this past August, and current enrollment is 15: two freshmen, six sophomores, six juniors and one senior.
Board Vice President Mark Ginter said he expects several current JPG students to attend Washington Catholic High School in Daviess County next school year. The board is considering offering transportation to those students to facilitate their continued Catholic education. Ginter said if there is enough student interest in transportation, the board would consider raising money to purchase and fuel a van.
“We want to support Catholic high school education for any family. If that means helping them with transportation, that’s what we’ll do,” he said.
Ginter said that other students may prefer to remain local and take advantage of the virtual education opportunities the school likely will offer. The board has considered using a free, online charter school called Indiana Connections Academy or an online Florida school called K12’s Florida Virtual Program that would require a tuition payment.
“What the virtual classroom will look like, how many students are going to be involved with that and what the delivery systems will be, we’re not sure yet,” Ginter said. “The reason we remain as a John Paul the Great corporation is because the need remains. Catholic high school education still needs to be provided. John Paul the Great Catholic High School as it presently exists will not exist next year. God knows the future of high school Catholic education for local parents.”
Ginter said the school likely will stop using its current location in the St. Joseph Parish Center on Kundek Street. The future beyond the 2012-13 school year is still unknown, Ginter said, adding that if community interest spikes later, the school may resume traditional courses.
Also on Sunday, board President Dr. J.R. Hoffman announced that his resignation will be effective at the end of June. He and his family will move to Illinois.
“Our mission has been and remains providing a strong faith based option allowing for physical, social, emotional, educational and spiritual growth,” Hoffman said in a press release.
School Principal Elizabeth Flatt has accepted the principal position at St. John the Baptist Elementary School in Newburgh beginning next school year.