The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board is making it easier for non-Catholic students to attend its elementary schools.

Until now, the decision to allow a non-Catholic student to enroll was handled by principals and a baptismal certificate was needed.

Now, Paul Picard, the director of education, will make the call.

The decision was made behind closed doors two weeks ago and communicated to principals last week through a memo which wasn't made public but was obtained by the CBC.

Board spokesperson Steve Fields says the board's procedure now matches that of other Catholic boards in Ontario.

He also said the decision wasn't made to increase enrolment because religious stipulations are still put on students.

"Those [non-Catholic] students, upon being admitted to our schools, are still going to have to agree to participate in all religious curriculum and all faith-based education," he said. "So they'll continue to do those things once they get into our schools."

Parent Mike Rohrer, whose kids attend Catholic school, wonders if the change could have kept his children's school open.

The decision to close St. Gregory in Tecumseh came last month.

He thinks parents of students at nearby D.M. Eagle school might have switched because he claims their public school is overcrowded.

"Certainly, as I said before, there were lots of ways to keep St. Gregory open. I said lets look at every option. I've been saying that for months," Rohrer said. "What I have a problem with is the secrecy about it, and the confidential documents and a school board that doesn't really look at what needs to be looked at, which is savings at the top."

School board chairperson Barb Holland says the board does not have too many superintendents..She says their titles are just different than officials at other boards.

"No school board is structured the same way. What we say to parents is, 'look at the bottom line and there is a line in the budget that the Ministry of Education looks at which says here's where your administrative numbers are and ours have been consistently below what the grant allows,'" Holland said.

Holland also says the new procedure doesn't mean there should just be one
school board.

She says the Catholic board still offers a different type of education.

The Greater Essex County District School Board had no comment.