Archdiocese puts dormitory plans on hold
The Archdiocese has put the plan to turn St. Joseph Hall into dormitories for international students on hold.
“I received a phone call from the superintendent of schools and, somewhat to our surprise, the Archdiocese said…that we weren’t yet sufficiently prepared to take on the running of a residential forum for the international students,” President Rick O’Hara said.
While this was not an “official notification,” according to O’Hara, “we’re expecting a letter from the Archdiocese.” This letter will outline additional procedures that will need to take place before St. Joseph Hall can be renovated and the plan can continue.
“The arrival of international students in Archdiocesan schools is a relatively new situation, and the Archdiocese is currently preparing policies and procedures to handle these matters,” Principal Madelyn Ball said.
Losing the dorms for the 2012-2013 school year is not expected to affect admissions. For the international students already enrolled in the dorm program, the administration is trying to make alternate arrangements.
“A letter has gone out…to all of our parents and to additional parishes in the area to ask for host families for the students who we had planned on having in St Joseph Hall. We are all looking at other options, also…We’re looking to see if maybe there are some other dorm arrangements in the area that we might be able to utilize,” O’Hara said, calling the letter to parents and parishes “a very urgent appeal.”
“There are no other Archdiocesan boarding schools in the Baltimore area. This is new territory for them and for us,” Ball said.
According to Ball, JC “had a solid plan in place, but [the Archdiocese] needed additional time.” However, she also said that JC would have needed additional time and that the renovations were expected to take four months, not leaving enough time to finish the dorms before the 2012-2013 school year.
Ball is, however, hopeful that the dorm program will be approved by the Archdiocese for next year. “[The Archdiocese] has denied us the opportunity to transform the convent for next year, but we are confident that we can fulfill all of their expectations for the 2013-2014 school year,” Ball said.
Director of Enrollment and Marketing Jesse Roberts is looking past the loss of the dorms for this year. “We are certainly disappointed that they didn’t share our vision for implementation of using St. Joseph Hall for this school year, but we will work with the Archdiocese to make sure these students will get the best possible experience,” Roberts said.
O’Hara will be ready when the Archdiocese approves the dorms. “We did enough planning to know what the estimated cost would be. We were prepared and we were ready to go right away with the bidding process with a contractor and the construction firm. The planning is complete and that doesn’t go away,” O’Hara said.
Martha Schick is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.
Additional reporting by Kailey Tracy.