St. Mary’s High School parents finally have an answer as to how the school will operate with a joint administration next year.

St. Mary’s High School parents finally have an answer as to how the school will operate with a joint administration next year.


Dan Peters, superintendent of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocesan Schools, released a letter to parents and staff of both St. Mary’s and Archbishop O’Hara high schools Tuesday. The letter is in response to the earlier announcement that there will be one administration for both high schools beginning this fall, an effort the diocese hopes will save money at the Independence private school, which has consistently been losing thousands of dollars a year. The diocese did not renew the contract of Jeff Lynch, the principal at St. Mary’s, which led to a town hall meeting earlier this month. During that meeting, parents expressed concern that the diocese did not have a plan in place as to how the two schools would operate with just one principal.


Under the plan, John O’Connor, the principal at O’Hara, will alternate days between the two schools. The first week, he will be at one school three days each week and two days at the other school. The second week, he will reverse the schedule.


Sara Kenney will serve as the assistant principal/athletic director at St. Mary’s. On the days when O’Connor is not at the school, she will be the administrator in charge. Larry Habel, Jane Schaffer and Ann Wright, the current assistant principals at O’Hara, will continue to serve in those positions. The plan also goes on to to say that school administrators will moderate school activities as in the past.


“Having one principal at both schools will preserve the education in the classroom and the programs offered to students,” Peters said. “It will also start bringing the two programs together.”


The plan is for this single administration to be in effect until the schools merge sometime in 2015.


“Part of a multi-year plan, this decision begins the process of bringing your schools together in anticipation of opening a new high school in the fall of 2015,” Peters said in the letter. “This plan also addresses a five-year pattern of operating deficits at St. Mary’s High School. Our singular goal is to ensure that the schools you cherish and support today remain open and provide a strong foundation for the future school.”


Peters said the plan was not developed by him, but by a group including Kenney, O’Connor and Shaffer, and St. Mary’s teachers Brenda Peak and Glenn Young.


“I recognize that achieving a unified administration will require the best efforts of each and every staff member, student and parent,” he said. “I also know that, as Catholic schools, we have that extra something that makes our schools successful – we have community.”