By Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dozens of Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia found out this morning whether their attempts to get off a list of schools planned for closure were successful.
There were 24 schools in all that appealed the January 6th recommendation from a blue-ribbon panel to close them because of declining enrollment (see previous story), but 18 of those schools found out that the initial decisions were changed in some fashion because of the appeals process.
One big surprise in today’s announcement was that seven elementary schools — up from one in the original blue-ribbon commission report — are now slated for outright closure.
St. John the Evangelist, in Fairless Hills, for example, was originally slated to house a regional school but will now close down at the end of the school year.
Overall, the original plan had 81 schools consolidating into 37 regional schools; the revised plan has 49 elementary schools consolidating into 23 regional schools.
The archdiocese today announced that 14 parish elementary schools will be given the opportunity to remain open as “mission” schools. They would be independently run and funded but would remain Catholic schools.
Meanwhile, there were four high schools — West Catholic, Conwell Egan, Bonner Prendie, and St. Hubert’s — originally slated to be closed, but a decision on closing those high schools has been put off a week. Richard McCarron, the archdiocese’s secretary for Catholic education, says several benefactors stepped forward at the eleventh hour.
“To give them fairness and justice, the archbishop decided to delay the announcement a week until we can examine carefully what it is they wish to do to advance the mission of Catholic secondary education in the archdiocese,” McCarron said today.
The archdiocese says it is trying to perform due diligence and see whether enough money has been raised to keep all of those high schools open. This would include West Catholic, which did not appeal the closure recommendation.
The archdiocese also issued a statement today, saying in part, “While there is no assurance that schools under review will ultimately become mission schools, the schools presently under consideration include: St. Helena and Incarnation of Our Lord partnered at the St. Helena site, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Donato partnered at the St. Donato site, St. Gabriel, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Malachy, Visitation BVM, Our Mother of Sorrows/St. Ignatius, St. Rose of Lima, Mary, Mother of Peace, St. Martin of Tours, The DePaul Catholic School, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Peter the Apostle, and St. Veronica.”
So, of the 49 schools on the original closure list (see list), 24 appealed. And the decisions on 18 schools are now being revised after the appeals process.
More details are at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s special web site set up for the purpose, faithinthefuture.com.
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