School Choice & Charters

Chicago Catholic Schools Welcome New Chief

By Catherine Gewertz — May 16, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A career Roman Catholic school administrator from Ohio who was named to lead the schools in the Chicago Archdiocese said last week that he is committed to battling a downsizing trend that has closed dozens of inner-city schools in the nation’s largest parochial school system in recent years.

“The thing that draws me to Chicago is the challenge of keeping Catholic schools available to all youths, in cities as well as suburbs,” Nicholas M. Wolsonovich said in an interview. “That isn’t an easy thing, and I’ve always been impressed that the archdiocese is willing to support so many schools having financial difficulty. It puts its money where its mouth is.”

Mr. Wolsonovich’s appointment as superintendent by Cardinal Francis George, announced May 3, comes as the archdiocese is struggling to keep schools in some parishes open. The archdiocese covers Cook County, which includes Chicago, and nearby Lake County. It has lost thousands of students in the past 10 years, mostly in highly urban areas, while enrollment is rising slightly in suburban areas.

Despite channeling $310 million in subsidies to financially ailing schools in the past 20 years, the archdiocese has closed 99 schools in the past 15 years and has opened only two new schools during that period. It currently serves 130,000 students in 312 schools.

Layman Leader

When he assumes the helm in Chicago July 1, Mr. Wolsonovich hopes to become part of the solution to that problem. He has not yet drawn up plans, but he has pledged to facilitate a dialogue within the archdiocese on the future of its schools.

Mr. Wolsonovich, 57, replaces two interim co-superintendents who have been running the archdiocesan schools department since the December departure of Elaine M. Schuster. Ms. Schuster became the chief executive officer of the Chicago-based Golden Apple Foundation after leading the Catholic schools for 10 years. (“Superintendent of Chicago’s Catholic Schools Resigns,” Sept. 6, 2000.)

For 16 years, Mr. Wolsonovich has been the superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, which serves 15,000 students in 49 schools in a six-county area of northeastern Ohio. For two decades before assuming the superintendency there, he held various posts in the diocese and its schools, including serving as a high school teacher of religion and Latin, a principal, the diocesan director of curriculum and instruction, and the director of government programs.

Historically, priests have led Chicago’s Catholic school system. Ms. Schuster was the first layperson to do so.

As a parent himself, Mr. Wolsonovich says he understands the struggles of Catholic-school parents. A widower with three grown sons, Mr. Wolsonovich has remarried and now has three stepchildren. All six attended Catholic schools.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 16, 2001 edition of Education Week as Chicago Catholic Schools Welcome New Chief

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Professional Development Online Summit What's Next for Professional Development: An Overview for Principals
Join fellow educators and administrators in this discussion on professional development for principals and administrators.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Opinion What Do Parents Look for When Choosing a School?
New polling sheds light on what a nationally representative sample of parents had to say on this question this summer.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty