By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia school system is on the brink of historic changes.
On Friday, the public will learn which schools will be closed, as of June 2012.
Sources tell Eyewitness News, most parish pastors and their principals learned their fate Thursday.
The number of closings is expected to be staggering and the full scope won’t be revealed until Friday.
First, a 10 a.m. meeting with pastors and principals, followed at Noon by a meeting with individual school communities. (The press conference will stream live at CBSPhilly.com)
“I’m really nervous. I’m praying for the best because we’re a good school,” said Chandler Dangerfield a senior at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.
But a good school won’t be enough to keep any school open.
A blue ribbon commission — empanelled by former Cardinal Justin Rigali — was ordered to create a viable and financially sustainable school system.
The new archbishop — Charles Chaput — will implement the changes.
Father James Olson, the president of Bonner and Prendergast, is trying to stay optimistic for his 900 plus students.
“There are probably three scenarios. We stay, as we are, a single gender educational institution with two divisions. Another is that we merge into one building and third is that we could close entirely. We just don’t know,” said Olson.
As of Thursday, the five county archdiocese has 17 high schools, 156 elementary schools and four special education schools.
Sources and published reports have said four to seven high schools could be closed or merged.
And between 40 and 50 parish elementary schools could be closed — with the system re-designed into a regional school model.
“It’s a time of high anxiety for students, for parents and for teachers. We want to see tomorrow come, but we really don’t,” said Rita Schwartz, president of the Catholic Teachers Association.
Schwartz represents the 700-member Catholic High School Teachers Union and believes Friday’s news will be emotionally jarring for many.
“I think they’re going to have a very difficult time with some of the students. Also some of the teachers, some of our teachers are graduates.”