DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Parents at two Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools in Delaware County have already been told that their schools will be closing due to decreased enrollment.
Now, a meeting scheduled at a third school has families there fearing the worst.
Superintendent Mary Rochford confirms the closings of Our Lady of Charity School in Brookhaven and St. Philomena in Lansdowne. She won’t yet identify the third, but the emergency meeting of parents scheduled for Thursday night at St. Kevin in Springfield leaves little mystery as to what may happen there.
And, with hours to spare before Thursday’s meeting, students and parents at St. Kevin School in Springfield rallied for support from the community. Parents say they’re hoping to convince Diocesan officials to reconsider if the rumored closing of their school is, indeed, true.
“Our pastor and representatives from St. Kevin were given a commitment and a promise from the Office of Catholic Education that we would be open next year,” said Tammy Bell, a parent.
That promise, according to Bell, came in January. But this Tuesday, they got word that two neighboring schools, St. Philomena of Lansdowne and Our Lady of Charity of Brookhaven, are scheduled to close at the end of the school year. And on the same day as the announcement, parents at St. Kevin were informed of the emergency meeting with Diocesan officials Thursday night.
“It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to figure out we’re on the same list,” Jim Hanely, the President of St. Kevin’s Home & School Association, explained.
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Faculty and staff were not permitted to participate in the rally, but watching from the windows of their classrooms and seeing the passion of students and their parents brought some to tears.
In a statement, Diocesan officials explained low enrollment was the reason for the demise of St. Philomena and Our Lady of Charity schools.
“Eighty-nine children are re-registered for Our Lady of Charity School, and 88 students are re-registered for Saint Philomena School. Each of the schools would have had at least one grade with fewer than five students. With such low enrollment, each school would have needed, minimally, to cut art, physical education and library services in order to remain fiscally viable… This was an extremely difficult decision to make because of the impact on students, families and teachers. We waited as long as possible in the hopes that re-registration numbers would increase, and that the schools could remain open next year,” said Superintendent of Schools Mary E. Rochford.
Hanley responded, “I believe their decision was based on the fact that we had under 100 students registered for the fall at the time they made their decision. But at this point, we have well over 130 students registered, and at a current enrollment of 148, over the summer it is believable and conceivable we would be at our current enrollment, if not higher.”
When asked if the rumored closing of St. Kevin is true, Diocesan officials told Eyewitness News that parents and affected families would be the first to learn of any decisions at the meeting on Thursday night.
Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio; Elizabeth Hur, CBS3