STAMFORD—In the face of declining enrollment and rising budget deficits at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, Bishop Caggiano asked parents to join with him to “reboot and re-imagine the school so that it can start growing again.”
About 200 parents, teachers and alumni turned out tonight in the school auditorium as the bishop and diocesan education leaders announced plans to accelerate the transformation of Trinity Catholic High School to a personalized and blended learning model grounded in traditional Catholic values and formation.
During the two-hour meeting, questions about the new teaching model and the fate of Trinity sports programs led to an intense and at times emotional exchange between parents and diocesan officials.
However, the meeting ended on a hopeful note for many in attendance when Bishop Caggiano reassured parents that he is committed to keeping the doors of Trinity Catholic high school open, and he urged them to register their students by May 31.
“I am here with every hope that you will work with us to allow Trinity Catholic to move forward in this new model. This is a moment of real decision for parents, but I believe we have an opportunity to start the school growing again,” he said.
Projected enrollment for the 2019-2020 school yeas has dropped to 175 from the current number of 295 students. To date, 158 students have registered for next year, while there are another 73 current students who have not yet re-registered.
The bishop said that the school can open its doors with a minimum of 160 students, but in order to do so, it must make changes by adopting the personalized learning model and adjusting other programs and activities based on the number of students enrolled.
The bishop began his remarks by saying that above all, the school must be “Catholic first” and form young people in the faith.
The bishop and Dr. Cheeseman, superintendent of schools, first announced plans for personalized learning in a meeting with parents held on January 8 in the school auditorium. At that time, the transition was expected to take two to three years.
The bishop said the decision to move forward immediately is based on declining enrollment, an opportunity to introduce innovative programs, and the need to make the best use of existing resources.
“The current challenges have actually provided us with an opportunity to move forward and accelerate our plans for the long-term, which will enable Trinity Catholic to innovate, to grow and to meet future needs,” he said.
Dr. Cheeseman said that personalized learning has produced higher test scores in other diocesan schools and in both public and private schools across the country where it has been adopted.
Personalized learning is based on direct instruction, online learning, a central learning lab, group projects and seminars, internships and a path for intervention to better diagnose student difficulties and create mastery-based learning skills. It incorporates traditional classroom teaching with new technology and innovative teaching styles.
In order to implement the new teaching model, faculty members will be trained in workshops over the summer, Dr. Cheeseman said.
The diocese is projecting a $1.3 million operating deficit for the next school year. Trinity is also running a $1.5 million budget deficit for the current year. It currently receives more subsidy than the other four diocesan high schools combined.
Dr. Cheeseman said the deficit is largely the result of declining enrollment, and that if the diocese is able to expand the number of students, the school can rebuild and better plan for the future.
Under Bishop Caggiano’s leadership, the diocese has invested significantly in the Trinity Catholic Campus highlighted by the recent completion of a two-year, $5M renovation project including extensive renovations to the school’s media center, classrooms, offices, labs and guidance wings, which were completed in late 2018.
Last month Bishop Caggiano announced a new scholarship opportunity to make Catholic high school education at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford more affordable and available to more families in lower Fairfield County.
The new Bishop’s Scholarship Initiative for 2019 will award a total of $12,000 ($3,000 for each of four years) to any Catholic student who is currently an 8th-grade student in good standing at one of the five Catholic elementary and middle schools in the area.
An additional scholarship of up to $8,000 ($2,000 for each of 4 years) is available to any student who qualifies for the incoming 9th-grade scholarship and has a sibling currently enrolled in any diocese of Bridgeport Catholic elementary or high school.
Earlier this year, the diocese approved a new governance model for Trinity Catholic. Under the planned governance model, the diocese will continue to sponsor the school and provide global vision, and a new board of directors will provide oversight and decision-making authority on a day-to-day basis.
Trinity Catholic High School is one of five diocesan high schools. The 40-acre campus will also include the Catholic Academy of Stamford upper schools (grades 6-8), which is scheduled to move into a newly renovated space in the Trinity building this fall 2019-20 school year.
The new Cardinal Kung Academy, launched last Fall, is a division of Trinity Catholic High School. Its mission is to support parents in their role as primary educators of their children, by providing a Catholic classical honors-track college-preparatory high school education at a reasonable cost.
Trinity is the only diocesan-sponsored Catholic high school in the greater Stamford area. While most students are from Stamford, it also draws students from Norwalk, New Canaan and Westchester County.
To schedule a tour or visit or for more information on The Bishop’s Scholarship and application procedures including easy online application at Trinity, please contact Mrs. Cindy Willette, director of admissions, via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Trinity Catholic High School is located at 926 Newfield Ave, Stamford, Conn. 06905
Phone: 203.322.3401. Online: www.trinitycatholic.org.)