Current Unified Catholic Schools facilities include Lourdes High School and St. John Neumann Middle School on Sawyer Street; St. Frances Cabrini Elementary School on Merritt Avenue; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School on Oregon Street. Bieble said the single-campus system will create unity, financial efficiency and educational consistency throughout all grade levels.
“You’re not operating two other buildings and not paying utilities there,” he said. “You have one location. It’s central. We could plan better in terms of staff and how to answer the needs of students.”
The vision of a single campus was first presented in the 2008-09 school year by former system President Tony Blando. UCS Board of Trustees Chairwoman Vicky Holt said the board is fully supportive of Bieble and his plans to bring this vision to reality.
“It is about moving UCS and Lourdes Academy forward and restructuring our administrative positions, as well as developing a comprehensive school counseling model and enhancing our campus ministry,” she said. “It’s all in line with moving the system forward. It’s about transitioning our kids and our families, and ensuring that it’s a seamless transition not only for the curriculum but also for the faith formation. We will all be together, pre-K through 12, one unified system.”
Holt says the foundation and board are working together to post for leadership positions and start fund-raising. “This will allow Bob more time to spend in the development aspect,” she said. “That’s one of Bob’s greatest assets — the area of development and the connections he’s made with our community members. We are just very excited about the opportunity this will provide for children and families. It’s an exciting time.”
The OCS Foundation has purchased different pieces of property adjacent to the Lourdes Academy campus that could figure into future plans, as well. These include:
n A-plus Unified Storage LLC, a storage facility still being operated in that capacity to provide income to the foundation.
n The CitizensFirst Credit Union building on Sawyer Street that will be vacated by September. OCS is exploring various options for use of that site.
Bieble said OCS is studying various ways to approach a seamless education that will take students from “cradle to college.”
“Students come in as preschoolers,” he said. “How do we get them to the college level? We’re thinking long-term with students as we develop curriculum and activities — not just getting from grade to grade. Our goal is to see them walk across that stage at graduation.”
He said OCS is now in a planning stage to ensure that they are institutionally ready, putting together committees, planning advancement and development efforts, and talking to design teams and contractors.
“We have to put the system in place before we can go out and raise the money to make this a reality,” he said. “We’ve set forth a vision to proceed with the building of a new elementary school, but we’re still in the process of putting everything in place. We’re at least two years away from any actual construction. That will all depend on philanthropically where people are at. The earliest for opening up a school will be 2014-15.”
Bieble said at his state of the system address that the one-campus concept will create one culture for Catholic education in Oshkosh.
“We are not just presenting an idea for changing Catholic education in Oshkosh, but rather a vision that focuses on the creation of something very new,” he said.
He said that addressing the viability and sustainability of Catholic education in Oshkosh involves focusing on growth and excellence.