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Incoming students pack TMP 'to the gills'




There have been some changes at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior Senior High School, but students returning to class today aren't likely to notice many.

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There have been some changes at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior Senior High School, but students returning to class today aren't likely to notice many.

Estimated enrollment is 375 students -- 107 junior high students in grades seven and eight, and 268 high school students.

With 79 students in the freshman class, it's the "biggest freshman class we've had in a long time," Principal Kathy Taylor said. "We're actually packed to the gills."

Past freshman classes have averaged approximately 50 students, she said.

Because of the larger class, school officials have started "inching toward creating some space with refurbishing the (school's) fourth floor."

The school has four new teachers -- two math, one science and one French teacher.

French classes, taught by Norma Pipkin, are new this year.

Carmen Simon will teach junior high math, and Shea Koerner high school math. Isaac Dennis is the new science teacher.

The school added art to the junior high classes, so "we also have some teachers doing some new things," Taylor said.

With the closing of Marian Hall, the girls' dormitory, and the boys' dormitory in need of repairs, school officials are taking a close look at the residence program.

There are 56 students in the residency program this year, five fewer than last year, Taylor said.

Taylor said it was a relief not to lose many students in the program.

With the girls' dormitory moving to Hadley Center and discussion of the program's future, school officials "were not sure what that would do to us this year," she said.

A committee led by Angie Roth, director of admissions, and Michelle Fairbank, director of resident life, have been studying the options.

School officials will make a presentation to Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Salina Diocese in the next few weeks. The bishop will make the decision whether the resident program will continue.

The governance structure of Holy Family Elementary School, enrollment of 405 in grades pre-K through six, and TMP also is changing.

"It may not seem big on the outside, but internally it will make a huge difference for us," Taylor said.

A finance and development committee will serve both schools. With input from principals, the committee will plan budgets that are implemented by the principals and each school's supervisory pastor, Father Kevin Weber, Immaculate Heart of Mary pastor at Holy Family, and Father Daryl Olmstead, the bishop's pastor designate at TMP.

Finance council members are Clare Gustin, Joe Koenigsman, John G. Moeder, Tom Meis, Christopher Brungardt and Glenn Diehl.

The TMP-Marian advancement office will help with fundraising and development activities.

Holy Family will continue to have an advisory council under Weber's supervision.

TMP-Marian also will have an advisory council under Olmstead's local authority. The diocesan superintendent, representing the bishop, also will serve as an ex-officio member.

Members of the TMP advisory council are Martin Acosta, Lisa M. Karlin, Wendy Richmeier, Bill Klaus, Bill Stark, Jayne Brandel, Robyn Pfeifer, Timothy J. Zimmerman and Allen Schmidt.

Before the change to an advisory council, TMP had a board of trustees. It was disbanded July 31, Taylor said.

"That had to be disbanded because that doesn't follow canon law, and (is) not set up like it was supposed to be when we became a diocesan school back in 2007."

The new councils follow canon law.

The advisory councils, which will meet monthly, will be "getting feedback from parents and community members, so when we make policies and decisions, we're getting that outside input," Taylor said.

TMP also will continue to have a leadership team and administrative team.

Sometime this fall, the school will start a search for a new TMP principal, Taylor said.

"I will step aside when I feel like there's a really good candidate to take the reins," she said.

Taylor said she will be involved with the transition.

* * *

A strategic planning committee for the Catholic school community has been meeting since mid-January, according to a letter from Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Salina Diocese, released last spring.

The letter addressed the addition of a junior high school on the TMP campus in 2012 and questions regarding the former Kennedy Middle School owned by St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Cost to operate the middle school for seventh- and eighth-grades has increased the budget by $700,000, and cost to operate the Kennedy building as a third site would have added an additional $750,000, according to the letter.

"In short, it would be irresponsible for school leadership under my authority to open a third campus for our local Catholic schools," the bishop wrote.

The two-school model -- Holy Family Elementary and TMP -- will continue, but the bishop didn't rule out new construction in the future at one or both of the schools.