On Aug. 14, the Rev. Jack Arlotta, pastor of the Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr, received official confirmation that the former St. Stephen’s-St. Edward School building would be utilized as a satellite campus of St. John’s School in Goshen.
He had agreed to a request by the Regional Superintendent of the Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Region.
On July 9 the parents of children attending St. Stephen’s – St. Edward’s Elementary School in Warwick received an email from the Archdiocese of New York that in the wake of school closings during the COVID-19 crisis, St. Stephen’s - St. Edward’s was one of the three schools in Orange County that would join Sacred Heart in Monroe to merge with St. John’s Elementary School in Goshen.
The notice was a surprise because, in addition to its advanced education and enrichment programs, the Warwick school had much to offer students including a sound building and large campus along with a new Collaborative Learning Center/Library, a variety of desk and seating options for group collaboration and work, an upgraded state-of-the-art network infrastructure with Wi-Fi, along with a new cafeteria and library, a Science Lab with lab seating and more.
St. Stephen’s – St. Edward’s had been a part of the Town of Warwick since 1965 and enrollment numbers were 144 for the 2019-20 school year and 140 thus far but expected to increase for next year.
St. Stephen’s had also never been unable to meet the monetary fundraising amount requested by the archdiocese.
But although some of the parents questioned the role of the parish and Arlotta in this decision, St. Stephen -St. Edward School had not been officially affiliated with St. Stephen’s Church since it was made a regional school in 2013.
It is important to understand that because the New York Archdiocese governed all its operations as well as that of other Catholic elementary schools in the region. As a result the pastors like Arlotta, and their staff have had no authority in a school’s governance including finance, hiring or any other decisions concerning the schools.
Last week, however, the parents received some encouraging news.
“In a time when news is all too often either upsetting or controversial, I am very happy to announce the good news that our merged schools will be offering classes five days a week in two locations during the upcoming school year,” wrote Principal Bethany Negersmith. “In the coming days we will be sending information regarding school supply lists, building placements, student schedules and more.”
She explained that school, with five day classes, will start as planned on Tuesday, Sept. 8 and that the former St. Stephen --St. Edward School in Warwick will serve as a satellite to the St. John Goshen campus.
Although it was not clear as of this writing, parents were to be notified this week and it would seem logical that the former St. Stephen – St. Edward School students would be assigned to their nearby and familiar school building.
“We have done our best to accommodate student needs and parent requests for the placement of the buildings,” said Negersmith. “Many things were taken into consideration, location being one of them.”
On Monday, Aug. 17, many, if not all of the parents, were notified.
“I was just notified that my daughter Samantha will be going to the Warwick location,” said Pam Rogers. “We are looking forward to returning to our campus and attending Holy Trinity at St. John School in Warwick and a safe, healthy and successful school year. We were absolutely thrilled to hear of the opening of the satellite campus. We remained hopeful throughout all our discussions with the superintendent of our catholic school, and delivering the news to my daughter and seeing the smile on her face made all of our hard work worthwhile. That campus has been her home since kindergarten and she can get excited at the possibility to return there on September 8th.”
In addition to their local school taxes, parents who had chosen to send their child to St. Stephen’s and now St. John’s will pay a tuition of $5,975 this year for one child adjusted downward for those with more than one child attending the school.