MANKATO — All Loyola Catholic School students will go to school on the same campus starting next fall.
The private school's board of trustees approved a “unification” plan Thursday to move the fifth through eighth grades from the Fitzgerald Campus to the Upper Campus.
Loyola will continue to use the theater and gymnasium at the current middle school, which is part of and will continue to be used by SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.
Loyola leaders have been talking about consolidating sites for more than 15 years and included it in their last strategic plan, according to an announcement from the school.
Principal Adam Bemmels said having a single campus will “allow us to come together as a school community.”
The principal said he's most excited about the additional multi-age and cross-curricular collaboration opportunities that will come from having all administrators, teachers and students in the same building.
Administrators previously had expected an expansion would be a necessity before the middle school pupils could move up to Good Counsel Hill.
But now the plan is to repurpose some underutilized spaces within the school and expand into an adjacent office facility that also is owned by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Bemmels said.
Renovations that included improved space efficiency started last summer and a few more projects will occur the coming summer, according to the principal.
There are vacancies in the connected building that is home to business and organization offices. For next fall the plan is to convert a vacant office space into a recreation space that will be a supplement to the already well-utilized gymnasium.
If enrollment exceeds projections next year or expands as hoped thereafter, Bemmels said the near-term plan is to expand into more vacant office space.
Enrollment might be down again next year. The number of students so far committed to attending next year is around 75 percent of the current enrollment, Bemmels said, adding that recruitment will continue through the spring and summer.
Long-term facility plans are still in development but might include building new academic space, an athletics field house and theater, Bemmels said.
For at least the near future, the Fitzgerald theater and gymnasium will continue to be used for extracurricular activities.
SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church Parish Administrator Mark Frederick said he supports the school's unification.
Church leadership hasn't decided what yet, Frederick said, but they plan to move some church programming into the classrooms they are now providing at no cost to Loyola.