Archdiocese, BC partner to aid Brighton school

BRIGHTON — In an effort to maintain a parish-based elementary and middle school in the Allston-Brighton section of Boston, Boston College and the Archdiocese of Boston are collaborating to aid St. Columbkille School.

“The school, supported through the collaboration of Boston College, the Archdiocese of Boston and St. Columbkille Parish, will continue to offer early childhood through 8th grade education at its present site on Arlington Street in Brighton,” said a joint statement released March 22.

“Without this agreement, St. Columbkille School could not stay open in the coming years,” said St. Columbkille’s pastor Father Richard J. Shmaruk. “We are very excited about the future of our school.”

The school, built in 1901, currently has 275 students enrolled.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley and BC president Father William P. Leahy, SJ agreed to the collaborative effort in hopes of strengthening the school by drawing in the resources of BC and the college’s Lynch School of Education, the statement said.

Under the agreement, a board of trustees will be formed and will authorize an audit of the school’s curriculum, faculty, finances and facilities before creating a strategic plan to guide the school in the future, the statement said.

“Once the strategic plan is completed, the board of trustees, which will include members from BC and the archdiocese, will be involved in helping secure the resources to meet the needs,” said Jack Dunn, spokesman for BC. “That’s the advantage of the partnership.”

The Lynch School faculty will provide support by working directly with the school’s teachers on faculty and curriculum development as well as presenting new approaches to education. The Lynch School has also been involved through its Extended Services Program, which offers after-school and summer programs for children and families, the statement said.

BC already provides this type of support for some Boston public schools and has provided teacher training and student teachers to St. Columbkille for many years, Dunn added.

Father Joseph O’Keefe, SJ, dean of the Lynch School, said the collaboration would provide an important new dimension to BC’s relationship with local schools.

“It will build on our wide array of initiatives that support Catholic education and will ultimately benefit educators around the nation,” he said.

Father Leahy said he hopes this partnership, the first of its kind in the United States, will serve as a model for Catholic universities nationwide to assist Catholic parochial schools.

“With a total of 277 Catholic elementary schools closing nationally in 2004-2005, we wanted to create a partnership that utilizes the resources of Boston College and its Lynch School of Education to assist a local, Catholic elementary school in need,” he said. “Given Boston College’s longstanding outreach to St. Columbkille and the historic neighborhood ties between the schools, St. Columbkille School seemed an ideal fit.”