St. Walter combines with St. Benedict

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced that St. Walter Elementary School, 11741 S. Western Ave., and St. Benedict School in Blue Island will merge to create a new school. The new school will hold classes in both locations. (Review file photo)

The Archdiocese of Chicago will close four schools and consolidate St. Walter School, 11741 S. Western Ave., with St. Benedict School in Blue Island.

The changes, announced on Jan. 21, includes the closure of four schools, including Christ our Savior School in South Holland, Sacred Heart School in Melrose Park, St. Ann School in Lansing and St. Joseph School in Summit.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, made the decision to close the schools based on low and steadily declining enrollment levels and large financial deficits. These four Catholic schools have experienced a combined average of 31 percent decrease in their enrollment in the last four years. The enrollment declines have created a combined deficit of about $1.12 million for this school year.

“School closures are always difficult because we recognize the impact they have on students, their families and our staff,” said Dr. Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools. “The archdiocese will work with each affected student and employee to assist them in finding places at other Catholic schools wherever possible.”

St. Walter and St. Benedict will combine as one school, but continue classes at the two campuses. Upper grades will be held at St. Benedict and lower grades at St. Walter.

The merger of St. Benedict and St. Walter is being done in concert with the Renew My Church initiative involving the associated parishes, which may also be unified later this year.   

The unification of St. Walter and St. Benedict, which will be named the St. Walter-St. Benedict School until a permanent name is decided later, will allow the schools to consolidate finances and building space. The upper grades will be able to take advantage of St. Benedict’s gymnasium and science lab, while the St. Walter building has one floor more appropriate for lower grades. Preschool may be offered at both sites, which is to be determined. A new principal will oversee the new school and current school staff can apply to the unified school and will receive special preference over outside applicants.   

“The bringing together of these two schools helps stabilize them financially,” Rigg said. “This structure will also give us classroom space to grow.”

Check back for updates as this story develops.