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Group mulls new unified Catholic school in Duluth

A group representing the Duluth Area Catholic Schools and the Duluth diocese announced a process Tuesday for planning a unified pre-K-12 school on multiple campuses.

Working with the Reid Group, a faith-based consulting firm based in Seattle, the group has planned an online survey and two community retreats meant to help shape ideas for the school.

"The focus is on getting the community engaged and helping them understand this is a bold step," said Hilaire Hauer, co-chair of the group Called to Be One. "We are bringing those discussions out of a board room and into the community."

The survey is at duluthareacatholicschools.org, where details of the retreats along with registration forms can also be found. The results from the survey will be shared at the first retreat, which is Sept. 24 at St. James Catholic School in West Duluth. The work done there will help shape a first draft of recommendations. A second retreat held Nov. 12, also at St. James, will further shape recommendations that will go before the board of the Duluth Area Catholic Schools in early January.

Group co-chair Bob Lisi said planners have been asked by the board to pursue a one-school model using multiple campuses in Duluth. That could change depending on community input. The goal is to have something in place for the fall of 2017.

The addition of high school grades would mean a Catholic high school in the city for the first time in more than 40 years. The idea is in response to parents asking for a K-12 school to allow a continual faith-based education, and to deal with declining enrollment. The change could mean pooling resources and staff to strengthen instruction, school officials said in April.

There are four Catholic schools in Duluth — one K-8, one pre-K-8 and two pre-K-5 — with a combined enrollment of 612 last school year.

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