Gehlen and Spalding To Combine High Schools
(Le Mars) -- A joint announcement was made Wednesday evening by the Gehlen Catholic Board of Education and the Spalding Catholic Board of Education that the two schools are looking at the unification of the high schools to become one Catholic High School serving northwest Iowa. Brian Kohlbeck, the president of Gehlen Catholic School board, told the 300 plus people at the Reardon Family Gymnasium that a final decision has not yet been made, and in fact both school boards want to hear comments from each community. Although Gehlen's enrollment has held steady, or has increased during the past few years, Spalding Catholic's enrollment has been on the decline. Spalding Catholic's school board member, Dennis Schmit told the crowd that Spalding's total enrollment for 2012 K-12 was at 167 students, with the high school enrollment at 70 students. The unification would only involve the two high schools, and it is hoped that Spalding Catholic will be able to focus their resources and attention to their various grade schools located at Hospers, and Alton. Father Kevin Richter, a 1979 graduate of Spalding Catholic high school, says the decision is an emotional decision.
The reaction of the crowd was quiet upon hearing the announcement. Richter says the decision to have Spalding Catholic merge their high school with Gehlen High School was a decision that many may have thought would come at some point.
Richter says it is possible that some students may choose to attend Remsen St. Mary's High School due to the distance factor.
The time table includes meetings twice a month between September 19 and November 14. On October 17 there will be a joint open meeting at Spalding, and then another joint open meeting scheduled for Gehlen Catholic on November 7th. A draft summary is to be presented to Bishop Nicklass on December 15th and the implementation would begin during the fall of 2013. The two schools are already sharing football programs, and Father Richter says students, parents, and the two communities have adjusted well to the shared program. He says that may serve as a precurser to the unification of the high schools. Richter emphasized the ultimate decision to combine the high schools will be left to both respective school boards.
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