Local Catholics to focus on school growth

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas is developing a plan to add religious schools to the region, shifting focus from adding churches as local growth slows.

Bishop Joseph Pepe said the diocese has spent the past decade adding new parishes to accommodate the demands that come with a concurrent building boom in Southern Nevada.

But Catholic officials now are developing a three-year master plan to add schools. An estimated 700,000 Catholics live in Las Vegas, and 3,700 students attend the eight schools affiliated with the diocese.

“With that kind of exponential growth, our first task was to identify areas, buy property and establish parish centers,” Pepe said. “Once you build the worshipping community, then you begin to get the requests for schools.”

The diocese has added one school in the past decade, and its capacity for the entire district is about the same as the student body at one of the larger Clark County high schools.

Pepe said the diocese might shift toward regional schools, rather than smaller schools run by individual parishes. Officials say the plan could lead to existing schools closing.

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