Catholic Diocese Ending Jubilee Schools After 2018-2019 School Year

By Bill Dries

The Catholic Diocese of Memphis is ending its operation of a set of nine Jubilee schools and St. Michael School at the end of the 2018-2019 school year and appears to be working with a charter organization forming a network of charter schools.

The Diocese announced the schools would no longer be affiliated with the Catholic Diocese at the end of the next school year.

“The educational landscape today is very different than it was in the late 1990s,” said Janet Donato, superintendent of Memphis Catholic Schools, in a written statement. “Our hope is that the students will continue to receive an excellent education that prepares them to be giving members of their communities.”

The schools, in addition to St. Michael, are St. Therese Little Flower Primary, De La Salle Elementary, St. Augustine Elementary, St. Patrick Elementary, St. John Elementary, Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary, St. Joseph Elementary, Resurrection Elementary, Memphis Catholic Middle and High School.

The schools have more than 1,500 students altogether.

The statement from the Diocese cites the rise of charter schools and the creation of six suburban public school districts and “the increasing financial challenges for our Diocese and our Jubilee Catholic Schools.”

It also says while the charter school network won’t be affiliated with the Diocese, it will “benefit from the strong academic foundation and values formed over the last two decades by the Jubilee Catholic Schools.”

The first Jubilee schools were opened in 1999 targeting low-income families. Many of the initial schools were revivals of long-time Catholic schools in the inner city that had closed by the mid-1970s.

The Catholic Diocese continues to operate seven parish schools and St. Benedict at Auburndale High School. It and Immaculate Conception will be the only high schools in the Diocesan system with the transition of the Jubilee schools.

Christian Brothers High School, St. Agnes and St. Dominic are private Catholic schools.

The Diocese closed Bishop Byrne High School in Whitehaven in the spring of 2013 in an effort to bolster enrollment at Memphis Catholic. At the time each of the schools had less than 200 students.