With the recent announcement by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception that they will soon be leaving Santa Rosa School, which they have run continuously since its opening in January 1955, archdiocesan education officials decided to build on the strong connections between Santa Rosa and Bishop Alemany in neighboring Mission Hills, where many of its students have traditionally gone to high school. “To me, it’s exciting because the K-12 model already exists out there for many private schools,” said Frank Ferry, principal of Bishop Alemany. He also pointed out that L.A. Unified has K-12 models, such as the elementary, middle and high school campuses on the former Ambassador Hotel property site adjacent to the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in Los Angeles’s Mid-Wilshire district.According to Ferry, Santa Rosa has had a history of excellence but, like many parish elementary schools, has experienced declining enrollment exacerbated by the lingering effects of the economic recession. From a high of more than 300 students, attendance has dropped to 150.“Our high schools have a huge investment in our elementary schools,” said San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson. He noted recent marketing workshops organized by Alemany officials as well as the archdiocesan Department of Catholic Schools aimed at helping elementary schools boost enrollment.“We’ve done a lot of things in concert with our high schools in the valley,” noted the bishop. “This pilot [K-12 model] project is just another step.”Instead of hiring a new principal, Ferry said that he and three other Alemany administrators will take over Santa Rosa’s administration as a team. Each will assume different responsibilities.“I have 150 outstanding employees at Alemany,” said Ferry. “They’re now Santa Rosa employees as well.” Ferry plans on bringing many of Alemany’s programs to Santa Rosa, such as counseling, and enrichment options, such as music, cheerleading and dance. “We’re looking at added value programs that our high school students can do,” explained Ferry. “We’re also looking at how we can become a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school [similar] to a charter magnet type concept where we’re going to be pushing our kids to be strong in those areas.”At a June 8 meeting at Santa Rosa with 200 school parents, Ferry said that future plans for the school would be guided by results from a strategic planning [SWOT] analysis conducted with parents, students and staff this summer. Tuition will remain the same for the next school year, as will the number of calendar school days.Ferry said physical plant improvements, including painting and cleaning, will commence shortly, continuing projects begun by Franciscan Sister Catalina Avila, principal, who is leaving along with two other Franciscan religious and one lay teacher.“I know I will be able to hire people of excellence,” said Ferry. “There’s no better time to hire teachers in California, which has 40,000 unemployed teachers with credentials and masters’ degrees.”Ferry also noted that administrators from Loyola Marymount’s education department have volunteered to help with professional development and curriculum instruction design. “They’ve offered right up front to be part of this,” he said. “LMU is going to be very active.” Another upcoming boost for the school is the anticipated opening next year of a preschool, which will help increase enrollment in the school’s kindergarten. “Father Stan Zowada [pastor] has been excellent to work with. He wants the school to be healthy and a school of excellence,” said Ferry. “Our goal is to make Santa Rosa a school of choice, not something that’s sort of trying to get by.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0624/santarosa/{/gallery}