By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett today paid a visit to one of the network of independent private Catholic schools formed after last year’s upheaval in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (see related story).

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At St. Martin of Tours Elementary School in Northeast Philadelphia, the governor said the “Independence Mission” schools, now operating in their first year, were set up for 4,200 pre-K through 8th graders from low-income, underserved neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

“And that’s what we’re really working on: how to we bring a balance to education?” the governor said.

Independence Mission Schools (“IMS”) is the umbrella organization for 16 parish elementary schools, all of which charge tuition but, controversially, use both public and private funds for financial aid.

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Read the KYW Regional Affairs Council special report, “Public Money, Private Schools”

The IMS network was created after a panel set up by Archbishop Charles Chaput originally proposed last year that dozens of elementary and high schools be closed because of deficits and declining enrollments (see related story).

“We all hear Catholic schools are closing because of declining enrollment,” said IMS chairman Brian McElwee today.  “That’s a symptom, not the disease. the disease is affordability.”

The governor also announced the appointment of Al Cavalli as the first president of IMS.

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