PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that it would be closing seven Catholic grade schools in the Philadelphia area at the end of this school year due to low enrollment.
For the past five years Paul Townes has waited at the corner of “G” and Westmoreland Streets to walk his 10-year-old daughter Nyderah home from school.
But where Paul waits for his daughter is about to change because Ascension of Our Lord Parish School in Kennsington is closing.
“It’s a good school,” said 10-year-old Nyderah. “I don’t know why it’s closing.”
The schools’ enrollment is at 118 students. That’s a 43% drop compared to five years ago when enrollment was at 204.
A drop in the number of students attending Catholic schools is the main reason why this school and six others will close in June.
The seven schools scheduled to close are:
* Ascension of Our Lord Parish School, in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
* St. Anne Parish School, also in Kensington.
* Our Lady of Fatima Parish School, in Bensalem (Bucks County), Pa.
* St. Cyprian Parish School, in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia.
* St. Hugh of Cluny Parish School, in the Fairhill section of Philadelphia.
* St. Martin of Tours Parish School, in New Hope (Bucks County), Pa.
* St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School in Croydon (Bucks County), Pa.
The Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Mary Rochford, says the only option would have been to raise tuition.
Meanwhile, the president of St. Anne’s Alumni Association says he is fighting to make sure the school he helped raise 200,000 dollars for, in the last two years, stays open.
“Myself and our executive alumni staff spent this weekend seeking out our church leaders and asking for reconsideration,” said Vincent Fenerty.
Faculty members were informed of the decision at the end of last week and letters went out to all parents last Friday. Announcements were also made during Sunday mass at all of the affected parishes over the weekend.
“As Catholic people we become very connected and identify ourselves with our parish. It feels as though part of the parish is dying. And that’s what it is for the people — it’s a real death, a real separation,” she told KYW Newsradio.
Parents have received information about neighboring parish schools, to help them decide where to send their children next fall.
Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio; Jericka Duncan, CBS 3