By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published September 8, 2023
ATLANTA—The new school year brings a different model of operation for Christ the King School. The 86-year-old school has announced it is now an accredited independent Catholic school within the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
The parish school of the Cathedral of Christ the King is no longer under the umbrella of the Office of Catholic Schools of the archdiocese. Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., approved the school’s operation as an independent Catholic institution, effective July 1.
Principal Melissa Lowry said the move to an independent model will “allow Christ the King to serve the specific needs of our school population.”
Lowry and the school staff welcomed 570 children in kindergarten through eighth grade this year from some 360 families.
In transitioning to an independent school, Christ the King now has the autonomy to implement programs and support services including a 21st century skills curriculum, a technology lab and the hiring of a third school counselor.
Lowry said that following the pandemic, the school community noticed a need for more student support in the area of mental health. There is now a dedicated counselor for each grade group (K-2, 3-5 and 6-8) with the new hire.
In 21st century skills labs, the students will learn about coding and keyboarding as well as the importance of digital citizenship, said Lowry.
He also reflected on the history of the school, formed in 1937 by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, who were the first teachers and administrators.
“They went begging in the neighborhood just for food,” said McNamee about the sisters’ humble beginnings.
It’s now entrusted to the laity, he added.
The move to an independent school model coincides with a substantial pay equity initiative grant, given anonymously by a parish family. The family has set up a grant for the school in the annual amount of approximately $500,000, in perpetuity.
“They have been very gracious. They are generous toward Catholic education, the cathedral and all causes. They are the first family to come up,” said Msgr. McNamee.
Lowry said the grant will ensure that salaries of teaching faculty and teaching assistants are competitive with those paid by other schools, aiding in recruitment and retention. She noted the pay equity initiative funds are not for increases for administrators or those outside the classroom.
“Strong teachers are a key to a successful Catholic education,” said the monsignor. “For generations to come we will be able to provide that.”
The family’s donation has spurred other giving among community members.
“It stirred up people in their generosity,” said Msgr. McNamee. “They believe in Catholic education and know how important it is. We’re blessed.”
In Atlanta, there are seven independent Catholic Schools including Christ the King, and 16 archdiocesan schools. The transition to an independent model for Christ the King means institutional accreditation through Cognia versus being part of the archdiocesan accreditation, said Lowry.
The new operating role will not impact the school’s strong Catholic identity or tuition rates said McNamee. The tuition ranges from $10,900 up to $14,775 a year.
Families can anticipate further enrichment resources and services to be announced throughout the 2023-2024 school year. Lowry emphasized greater flexibility in programs offered.
“We are now able to better address the direct needs within our immediate community and provide specific resources to serve our students,” she said.
“This is a positive thing,” said Msgr. McNamee. “The life of the school continues.”
Meet the new board of trustees for Christ the King School at www.christking.org/board-of-trustees.html.