Archbishop Lyke and St. Thomas Aquinas schools will be under the management of Partnership Schools, an independent nonprofit management corporation launched in collaboration with the Archdiocese of New York in 2012. The venture is the first time Partnership Schools is expanding beyond New York.
Officials for the diocese and Partnership Schools said the expansion, which takes effect July 1, will bring a proven model of independently operated Catholic schools to another city where urban Catholic schools are under threat of closure. The coronavirus crisis represents an existential threat for America’s urban Catholic schools. Already more than 45 Catholic schools have closed since the nationwide school shutdown began in March.
The diocese will retain ownership of the two schools. The Partnership will be responsible for the schools’ finances, academics and Catholic school culture, according to the agreement that makes Cleveland one of a pioneering handful of dioceses implementing new models of Catholic school management.
“At a time when communities have been wounded by divisions, Catholic schools provide quality education in an environment of faith that is a beacon of hope to all around them,” said Frank O’Linn, superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Cleveland. “The support of the Partnership Schools model coupled with the zeal of their dedicated educators will strengthen the communities of Archbishop Lyke and St. Thomas Aquinas schools for a brighter future.”
Father Don Oleksiak, diocesan administrator, said Catholic schools long have been anchors for children and families in both urban Cleveland and throughout the diocese. “The partnership between the Diocese of Cleveland and Partnership Schools will continue to improve Catholic schools, maintain academic excellence and instill faith-filled values that transform lives,” he added.
The expansion of Partnership Schools to Cleveland is possible because of the significant efforts of local community leaders who pledged most of a $3 million commitment needed to implement the Partnership Schools model at Archbishop Lyke and St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Together we can not only strengthen two Catholic schools that have been pillars of their communities for generations, but just as importantly change the conversation about what the future of urban Catholic education can look like,” said Kathleen Porter-Magee, Partnership Schools superintendent. “To say that we are thrilled to come to Cleveland is an understatement.”
Partnership Schools, an independent 501(c)3 school management organization, operates seven elementary schools in Harlem and the south Bronx. The collaboration includes the Archdiocese of New York and donors who sought comprehensive turn-around for urban Catholic schools. The nonprofit network originally included six schools. Its tangible results – with academic gains that beat public and charter schools – prompted the archdiocese to request that the network expand to include an additional school last year.