Since taking over the reigns of East Boston Central Catholic School (EBCCS) from longtime Principal Maryann Manfredonia last year, Principal Robert Casaletto knew he had some very big shoes to fill. Casaletto took over the leadership of the school at a critical junction in EBCCS’s history. There was a time in Eastie’s not so distant past when there were three Catholic schools that served the needs of the community.
The addition of two charter schools, Excel Academy and the Edward Brooke, added two more options for families in Eastie and the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We are not losing as many kids to the charter schools as one would think,” said Casaletto recently. “We may have lost three students to the fifth grade at Excel last year, but I look at it as we didn’t gain any students either.”
Casaletto explained that the addition of two more school options for parents looking for an alternative to traditional public school is what hurts a place like EBCCS.
“If we got five, maybe 10 percent of the kids going to either Excel or the Brooke every year we’d be golden” he said. “Now you are looking at an enrollment of over 300 students in the school instead of the school population that now hoovers just under 200 students. Casaletto said 225 students would be a nice comfortable number and 260 students would be ideal.
Last week, EBCCS got some help in growing the school’s numbers from the Catholic Schools Foundation’s signature program, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund (ICSF).
Casaletto said EBCCS will receive a grant that will go towards scholarship support for 104 students for the 2018-2019 school year.
“EBCCS accepts students from preschool through 8th grade, many of whom would not be able to attend without the very generous and continued support from the Catholic Schools Foundation and the Inner City Scholarship Fund,” explained Casaletto.
This year, the ICSF will be providing nearly $9 million in scholarship support to 4,000 students in the Archdiocese of Boston. ICSF has been dedicated to creating accessibility to a high quality, values-based education for low-income families for three decades.
“Young people are the future leaders of our society and we are thrilled to be able to invest in them through a Catholic education,” said Executive Director of the Catholic Schools Foundation Mike Reardon.
Casaletto said EBCCS has long provided a welcoming atmosphere in the Catholic tradition where faith and knowledge meet to provide a solid foundation for lifelong learning.
“We empower each child to reach their full potential through a process that encourages character development, spiritual growth, and academic excellence,” he said. “
Last year the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) gave its seal of approval to EBCCS. The NEASC, the country’s oldest accreditation association serving more than 2,000 public and independent schools. This was EBCCS’s second accreditation from the NEASC, the first occurring a decade ago. According to their report on EBCCS, the NEASC wrote that the school met or exceeded expectations. The schools greatest strengths were its mission, admissions, program and experience of students as well as resources, early childhood education, faculty and health and safety.
Casaletto added that he’d put EBCCS’s curriculum against any other school.
“We’ve made some great strides,” said Casaletto.
In fact the school just added a new standardized test that tracks a students progress and learning capabilities throughout the year and is a private school equivalent of sorts of the state’s MCAS exam.
“Public schools or charter schools may teach the same thing like math or science in a different way the foundation for learning and success academically is just as strong at EBCCS,” he said.