St. Joseph School names new principal

St. Joseph Interparochial School’s new principal Rodney Schwartz of Burkesville speaks to students Monday, April 10, 2017, at the school. (Bac Totrong/photo@bgdailynews.com)

St. Joseph Interparochial School is exploring a potential expansion to add high school grades to its curriculum and gauging the community’s interest through an online survey.

“It’s just a matter of having another choice” for parents, said Principal Rodney Schwartz.

Schwartz said the school is exploring initially adding ninth-grade classes to test the viability and gradually adding grades from there. The school, at 416 Church Ave., currently offers preschool and classes through eighth grade.

Tom Stewart, a Western Kentucky University professor in the Department of Education Administration, Leadership and Research, is a parishioner at St. Joseph Catholic Church and sits on the school’s council. He confirmed the school’s interest in gradually developing a high school.

“Our plan is to take one grade at a time and increase year by year,” Stewart said.

The survey, which has been shared on the school’s website and its Facebook page, asks respondents about their willingness to volunteer or offer financial support to make the expansion possible, among other qualifying information. It further notes that the school is not currently soliciting funds.

As of Monday afternoon, Stewart said the survey had received more than 200 responses, although he was unable to describe the results. The survey has been available on the school’s website since Jan. 24.

In his own conversations, however, Stewart said he’s seen some support for a local Catholic high school.

“We have been asked by some people why there wasn’t a local Catholic high school,” Stewart said, adding that, while Bowling Green already has great schools, it makes sense to offer a Catholic education beyond middle school.

“It’s good to have additional choices,” he said.

Schwartz, who replaced former principal Jan Lange in the spring of 2017, said he was asked if he would be interested in helping to develop a Catholic high school when he was hired.

Schwartz said the survey is an attempt to gather feedback from everyone in the community, including people who aren’t Catholic. About a quarter of the school’s current student population is not Catholic, he said.

Asked if the expansion would require building a new school, Schwartz said that would likely not be possible immediately. The Diocese of Owensboro, which includes St. Joseph Catholic Church under its umbrella of 78 parishes in western Kentucky, would need to evaluate its existing building priorities, he said.

For now, the school is simply exploring the idea, Schwartz said. Although in the future, he suggested public meetings could be held to further gauge the community’s interest.

“Everybody doesn’t have the same idea of what a high school should be,” Schwartz said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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