Catholic School Closings

January 6, 2012 by staff 

Catholic School ClosingsCatholic School Closings, As the Philadelphia Archdiocese moves closer to closing many schools in our area, a clearer picture is developing about the reasons for the move.

Blogger Susan Matthews from the called the expected announcement “devastating” for parishioners as the Archdiocese deals with its child sex-abuse scandal.

“It will be very difficult for a lot of people,” she said.

Matthews believes between 30 and 40 elementary schools will close and about 4 to 5 high schools will close, based on rumors that everyone is hearing who covers the Archdiocese.

“It is a fiscal reality with the demographic shifting out to the suburbs. Catholic school has gotten more expensive,” she said.

Matthews says modern expenses like lay teachers, instead of nuns, are also a fiscal reality that charged the cost structures for schools.

“Philadelphia Catholics identify so strongly with their parishes and elementary schools and high schools. If you ask somebody from this area where they are from, they are more likely to say their parish name than even their neighborhood,” Matthews said.

“There is so much pride, well-deserved pride,” she says. “That is why the solutions will be debated.”

Matthews says her elementary school will close but she understands the financial reality.

The Blue Ribbon commission that will make the recommendations on Friday has been studying the issue for the past year. It is expected that many schools will close at the end of he current school year.

The plan, Matthews says, is for regional hubs of education.

Enrollment has dropped about 38 percent for local Catholic high schools in the past decade and by a similar number for elementary schools.

A bigger problem could be for parents seeking to find new schools for their children, especially for children who may need to attend the Philadelphia public school system.

Another aspect could be expanding the curriculum at the regional hubs.

The official announcement will be at 4 p.m. on Friday, but word could come out on Friday morning as schools are told in advance of the announcement.

The commissiom will announce the results of the study of Friday afternoon, in an event that will be streamed on the Archdiocese web site.

All elementary schools with fewer than 125 students are expected to be closed.

Rev. Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, told parishoners in December the cuts will be coming as the church dealt with the financial reality of declining enrollments.

Among the possible targets are the all-boys Monsignior Bonnor and the all-girls Archbishop Prendergast. These schools could end up merging or the archdiocese could close them both.

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