JS: The Seton network vowed to transform Catholic education in Milwaukee. Four years later, troubles mount

When the Archdiocese of Milwaukee launched its Seton Catholic Schools network in the fall of 2015, it vowed it would transform Catholic education in southeastern Wisconsin.

The experience at Prince of Peace isn't what anyone had in mind.

In the almost three years since it joined Seton, parents say, the south side elementary school has been spiraling downward.

It lost its extracurricular activities and more than a fourth of its teachers. There's no library and no playground equipment. Kids play on a grassy lot that is checked for used condoms and needles, parents say, after they complained last year. Enrollment is down. And the school dropped a grade on its latest state report card, leaving parents fretting about their children's high school prospects.

"We want to know what they're doing with the money," Prince of Peace parent Elizabeth Nolasco said of the $16 million a year Seton schools bring to the network in taxpayer-funded voucher payments alone.

"They said they would be in the community recruiting. ... There'd be more teachers. Test grades were going to go up. Report cards were going to go up. All these things were promised and nothing was fulfilled."

Nolasco is part of a group of parents threatening to pull their children from Prince of Peace unless the archdiocese allows it to secede from the network. Two other schools already have bailed — Divine Mercy in South Milwaukee and St. Matthias in West Allis — and parents and teachers elsewhere have raised similar concerns.
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