By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published February 4, 2021
ATLANTA—Hal Plummer, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, announced Jan. 22 that Our Lady of Victory School in Tyrone and Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fayetteville will be consolidated into one PreK-12 Catholic school.
The consolidation will begin with the 2022-23 school year and will be a move to the Our Lady of Mercy campus.
Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv., approved the consolidation and anticipates a bright future for the school community.
“This new educational endeavor is a wonderful step in the right direction. We are committed to providing this new school with the resources and support necessary to make it succeed as a strong, academically challenging and faith-filled environment for students and their families,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “I look forward to digging into this work with Hal Plummer and his team and seeing the results in our graduates.”
Plummer cited long-standing enrollment challenges at both Fayette schools as the primary reason for the decision.
“OLV and OLM schools have experienced sharp enrollment declines, losing about 50 percent of their enrollment over the past seven years, so something clearly had to be done,” said Plummer in a press release. “Consolidation is the process of making something stronger or more solid by developing a single more effective or coherent whole, and that’s what we are planning on accomplishing.”
The hope is to stabilize enrollment, building on the strength of both schools, Plummer told The Georgia Bulletin in an email. The high school currently has 212 students, and the elementary school has 101 students.
Both of the schools have a history of diversity and academic excellence, noted Plummer.
“Changes like this can be painful for the communities they affect, but we really do believe consolidating these two schools into one is the best way for us to move forward. I am deeply grateful to the archdiocese for providing us with about 18 months for thoughtful strategic planning,” he said.
The school will be the first PreK-12 academy-type school model sponsored by the archdiocese. Planning updates will be provided throughout the process, said the superintendent.
The consolidation will mean that families have their children all under one roof for the school day, and the students will “reap the benefits of having a more natural transition from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school,” said Plummer.
He also expects there to benefits in the arena of staff and faculty collaboration.
“With everyone in the same building, we believe teachers will be able to work more directly and impactfully on a wide variety of educational initiatives,” he said in an email. “For example, some STEM-related learning has been introduced into their respective schools, but imagine the benefits of all the teachers strategically coordinating these efforts and folding them into a strong, fully resourced PreK-12 STEM program.”
The Office of Catholic Schools is creating the outline of a Project Plan of factors needing careful consideration for successful consolidation. While there may be changes in job responsibilities, Plummer said the Office of Catholic Schools does not anticipate any staff cuts or name changes. Both lower and upper schools will retain their names, with their own principals.
“We are also planning to introduce a new position, a full-time mission advancement director to promote the school in the community, coordinate PreK-12 curricular initiatives and work with major donors,” Plummer said in an email.
In the spring, the Office of Catholic Schools will be collaborating with parents, parishes and members of the local community.
“Listening to parents and other members of the local school community, including local Catholic parishes, is one of our highest priorities,” he said.