Saint Albert the Great will embark on a new journey with Church of the Assumption and its parish school Assumption Academy in Broadview Heights.
Beginning with the 2019-20 academic year, leadership from Saint Albert the Great will manage Assumption Academy in an effort to revitalize the more than 60-year-old school and assist in boosting enrollment, which has been declining for the past several years and currently sits at roughly 140 students with full capacity being around 300.
“We could see the class sizes getting smaller and smaller and we knew that children were choosing other schools for their education,” said Jodie Varner, a North Royalton resident and Assumption Academy parent who is assisting with marketing efforts and the newfound relationship with Saint Albert the Great. “We also know that existing leadership and administration have been trying for years to rebound us and that they have been unsuccessful.”
Teams at Assumption Academy could see the downward trend and it signaled something, said Annie Dorsey, a Broadview Heights parent of two Assumption Academy students and another member of the parochial school’s volunteer marketing committee.
“We had a booth at the Broadview Heights Home Days for engaging with the larger community letting them know ‘hey, we are here,’ and in talking with some people, they would say, ‘we know there’s a church there, but we didn’t know there was a school back there,’” Dorsey said. “We spent time just talking with people including our student families, community members and understanding the competition in the market. We looked at our tuition and offering compared to other schools and we looked at others who are thriving and we focused on Saint Albert the Great School and really asked, ‘why is it working for you and why are we missing the boat?’ We did a lot to understand why it is happening.”
Rather than viewing Saint Albert the Great School as the “rival,” as Varner put it, with its low tuition and growing wait lists, officials chose instead to view the vibrant North Royalton parish and school leadership as a tool they could leverage for their own success.
“It really to me is no different than helping a person in need,” said Saint Albert the Great School Principal Ed Vittardi. “When we met with Assumption, it was emotional and their level of passion for their school was immediately apparent and impressive. They love their school, but it was also financially becoming apparent to them that they could not continue in their present stance and be financially viable.”
In the developing agreement between the two parishes, Saint Albert the Great leadership will serve in a management consultant role and will evaluate staff, budgets, programming and other areas of Assumption Academy. It is not a merger and Saint Albert the Great Parish will not provide any monetary assistance to Assumption Academy. The academy will still be subsidized by the Broadview Heights church.
To begin the revitalization, Assumption Academy moved up registration and re-enrollment for next school year. An all-school open house event is set for Jan. 27. Passion and commitment at the school, located at 9183 Broadview Road, is evident as the Assumption Academy network raised more than $107,000 – the most in the Diocese of Cleveland – in the recent “We Give Catholic” yearly Catholic giving online campaign.
“We really took that as a huge vote of confidence that not only our school families, but our parish and larger network see the vision and that they get it,” Dorsey said.
A “Kindergarten Kick-Off” event modeled after that of Saint Albert’s will take place at Assumption Academy on Jan. 22 as an opportunity to learn more about the curriculum, hear from school leadership, receive information regarding registration and tuition, tour the building and for children to spend time in the classroom. To register for the “Kindergarten Kick-Off,” call (440)526-4877. To learn more about Assumption Academy, click on
“Right now, it’s about spreading the word and we’re really doing a grassroots effort in our community and asking everyone whether they are parishioners, parents, alumni and residents to really be stewards of Assumption Academy,” Varner said. “We have two more fundraisers coming up this year and they are part of our effort to rebuild the school. We’re letting people know we are here, and we are not fading away.”
In preparing for the newfound relationship with Assumption Academy, Vittardi describes the bond as a train currently on two tracks – tending to this school year and working already on the next one.
“This relationship could be a model in other places and in other schools that are struggling,” Vittardi said. “We are definitely going down a completely new road here, but when you’re in unchartered territory, it’s all about the people you are doing it with.”
Vittardi, who admits the added responsibility will most certainly make him busier spreading his energies between the two schools, said he admires the dedication of both school staffs.
“When I met with the staff here at Saint Albert’s about this, what I didn’t immediately expect was to hear all of them jump in and say, ‘tell me how I can help’ and ‘how can I be of help in all this?’” he said.
Dorsey noted that the leadership of Saint Albert the Great – Pastor Edward Estok and School Principal Edward Vittardi – is what really captivated and drew in Assumption.
“We sat down with them and said please help us understand that team of Father Estok and Principal Ed Vittardi. We have wonderful leadership as well, but that team has a bit more and there’s a magic created between a team like that,” Dorsey said.
Vittardi, whose resume includes posts at North Royalton City Schools as superintendent, administrator and middle school principal, is assessing “everything from top to bottom,” Dorsey explained, including how Assumption Academy is run and managed. Tuition for in-parish students in kindergarten through eighth grade is $3,375 and out-of-parish tuition is $4,900, according to information found on Vittardi is also having focus groups and reviewing every possible detail of how the Broadview Heights parochial school operates. Though consulting services are still being studied, it is believed that Assumption Academy Principal William DiBacco will report next academic year to Vittardi, Dorsey said.
“Saint Albert is a successful brand of high-quality, Catholic education in our region, so we can learn from that,” Dorsey said.

Contributing Writer