Building improvement being considered
This past weekend, all members of the Tri-Parish community (St. Mary’s, St. Anthony’s, and Assumption Catholic Churches) were asked to consider the future needs of the Prairie Faith Formation Program (PFFP) after Prairie Elementary School closes its doors and the children move to the middle school, beginning in fall 2011. An informational letter and survey were either mailed or handed out to each household currently registered in any of the three parishes. If you are a member of the Tri-Parish and did not receive a letter and survey, please contact Jeanne at the parish office (962-3214) right away.
Prairie’s decision to close the elementary school significantly impacts “Released Time” as we have always been able to teach grades 1-4 in the back of St. Mary’s Church. This move will necessitate teaching grades 1-6 in the PFFP building at the middle school. The building currently being used for PFFP students at the middle school (known as the PEACE Building) is a two-classroom trailer that had been moved across the street from the middle school 40 years ago as a “temporary” facility until something better could be put there. The worry now is, with the influx of students at the middle school building once the schools combine, the PEACE Building will no longer be able to accommodate the number of children in the program while working around the schedule made available by the public school.
Since handing out the surveys, several parishioners have approached members of the PFFP Research Committee and brought up valid questions which we would like to address at this time.
How many PFFP students are currently enrolled in grades 1-6?
In grades 1-6, there are currently 96 precious children enrolled in the PFFP program.
Why not just bus/transport the students from the middle school to the classrooms at the back of St. Mary’s Church for their PFFP instruction?
The committee had considered this option initially as it seemed like an obvious and very affordable way to deal with the transition. After looking into it further, though, it was dismissed as an option. The catechists have, on average, 40 minutes with the students per class period. (This includes pickup, transition, instruction, and drop-off time.) Right now, even just with walking grades 1-4 across the street to the church, instruction time is limited. Expecting such young children to climb in a van, be driven across town, walk into the church, and settle quickly into a new environment and be ready to learn seems unreasonable. Beyond just the time constraints, there are also other factors that make this option undesirable. For example, we would need to purchase a van/bus as well as maintain, fuel, and insure it, and then we would need to hire/find a driver who is licensed adequately to drive the schoolchildren to and from the middle school several days per week.
The survey mentions the possibility of new construction or moving in a new modular building at the middle school, but it does not give any statistics (size, number of classrooms, cost, etc.). Why is this information not being released?
Because any change to the PEACE Building will come at an expense to the parishes, it was important to our committee that, prior to making any decisions, we come before the parishes and ask for their support and input. No hard and fast decision can be made until we are assured that the Tri-Parish family is behind an improvement project at the middle school. Once we have this support, we will approach the pastoral council and seek their approval to move forward. Following their “okay,” the Research Committee will begin to design a series of options that range in size, cost, and use of space. Once completed, we plan to hold a “town hall meeting” and invite members of the parish family to offer input, advice, and opinions on which option they believe would be best for our parish. Once an option has been selected, our committee will go forward and begin seeking out professionals (as well as the pledges necessary) to make the improvement plan at the middle school a reality.
Why is it important that you receive my survey before Sunday, October 10th?
The decisions made at the pastoral council meeting on Wednesday, October 13th regarding PFFP will be based solely on the responses received from the surveys. It is critical to the decision-making process that we have everyone’s opinion on this matter so that we, as a committee, as well as the pastoral council members are able to make a decision that is representative of the wishes of those members of our parish. Surveys can be mailed to the parish office or dropped in the collection basket at the weekend Masses between now and October 10th.
If you have any further concerns regarding the improvement project at the middle school, please contact any member of the committee listed on the letter (Annmarie Schwartz, Ryan Uhlenkott, Adam Forsmann, Jeanne Stubbers, Heather Uhlenkott, Susan Wassmuth, Joe Seubert, Pat Schmidt, or Father Haldane). We are happy to answer your questions, give you a tour of the PEACE Building at the middle school, or help in whatever way necessary so that you are able to offer us your informed opinion.