Blue Ribbon Commission Recommends 4 High School, 44 Elementary School Closings
The Blue Ribbon Commission made its recommendation to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to close four high schools and 44 out of 156 elementary schools in June.
The Blue Ribbon Commission made its recommendation to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to close four high schools and 44 out of 156 elementary schools at the end of the school year in June.
The Blue Ribbon Commission presented its recommendations publicly at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Philadelphia Friday afternoon following an earlier meeting with pastors and school principals to hear their fate at Neumann University in Aston.
In a press conference Friday afternoon it was confirmed that 44 out of the 156 elementary schools in the Archdiocese will be closing in June. Seven of those 44 schools are in Delaware County.
Archdiocesean high schools, Monsignor Bonner, Archbishop Prendergast, West Catholic, St. Hubert and Conwell Egan will be closing at the end of the school year. But Archbishop Carroll in Radnor, which was rumored to be on the chopping block, was spared along with Nativity BVM, which will merge with St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford, and St. Mary Magdalen School.
The 16-member Blue Ribbon Commission was appointed in December 2010. The Commission engaged in a yearlong comprehensive and critical review of the Catholic schools and religious education programs before making these recommendations.
Blue Ribbon Commission Chairman Jack Quindlen said at the press conference that the commission was charged with "charting the future course of Catholic education."
"The commission's report reviews the dramatic changes in enrollment in our Catholic schools brought about by lower birth rates, demographic shifts and high tuitions required to meet high costs," Quindlen said. "As a result a number of our schools are simply not financial viable."
He said much of the focus is on school closings but it is just one part of the reform program that is designed to strength the remaining schools.
Restructuring of schools, new governance of schools, advocacy for government support and the establishment of a new foundation to attract additional financial support for schools are also part of the reform program, Quindlen said.
"These four initiatives are aimed at strengthening the future of our schools," he said.
Commisson Member Edward Hanway said at the press conference that the school closing recommnendations will reposition schools and make them academically stronger and make them more able to compete and grow.
He said current Archdiocesean enrollment is 68,000 students and in 1961 it was 250,000, which is a 72 percent decline.
"Many factors have contributed to the decline in our enrollments and that decline will continue unless we act, and act decisively," Hanway said.
He said the commission recommends that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia move from 156 to 112 elementary schools, 63 as single parish schools and 49 as newly partnered regional schools.
"It is our belief that this plan will achieve an elementary school structure that is accessible, affordable and can be sustained," Hanway said. "One that can provide all of the elements of a high quality Catholic, elementary education and one will that will be fully competitve and enable our enrollments to grow."
For high schools the commission recommends a reduction from 17 to 13 schools, closing four high schools.
Below is a full list of the Blue Ribbon Commission's school closing and merging recommendations, confirmed by NBCPhiladelphia.com.
- Annunication, Brookline, merges with St. Denis, Havertown at the Havertown site.
- St. Cyril of Alexandria, East Lansdowne, merges with St. Andrew, Drexel Hill, at the Drexel Hill site.
- Our Lady of Fatima, Secane, merges with Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Morton at the Morton site.
- St. Gabriel, Norwood, merges with St. Madeline/St. Rose, Ridley Park, at the Ridley Park site.
- St. John Chrysostom, Wallingford, merges with Nativity BVM, Media at the Media site.
- St. Francis de Sales, Lenni, merges with St. Thomas the Apostle, Glen Mills, at the Glen Mills site.
- Holy Savior-St. John Fisher, Linwood, merges with St. Joseph, Aston, at the Aston site.
- Msgr. Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast closes outright.
- St. Monica, Berwyn, merges with St. Patrick, Malvern, at the Malvern site.
- St. Patrick, Kennett Square, merges with St. Cornelius, Chadds Ford, at the Chadds Ford site.
- St. Anthony-St. Joseph, Ambler, St. Catherine of Siena, Horsham, merge with St. Alphonsus, Maple Glen, at the Maple Glen site.
- Conshohocken Catholic, Conshohocken, merges with Mother Divine Providence, King of Prussia, at the King of Prussia site.
- St. Teresa of Avila, Norristown, merges with Visitation BVM, Trooper, at the Trooper site.
- Our Lady of Victory, East Norriton and St. Titus, East Norriton, merge with Epiphany of our Lord, Plymouth Meeting, at the Plymouth Meeting site.
- Our Lady Help of Christians, Abington, merges with St. David, Willow Grove, at the Willow Grove site.
- Immaculate Conception, Jenkintown, merges with St. Luke, Glenside, at the Glenside site.
- St. Rose of Lima, North Wales, merges with St. Stanislaus, Lansdale, at the Lansdale site.
- St. Maria Goretti, Hatfield, merges with Corpus Christi, Lansdale, at the Lansdale site.
- Sacred Heart, Royersford, merges with St. Eleanor, Collegeville, at the Collegeville site.
- St. Philip Neri, East Greenville, merges with St. Isidore, Quakertown (Bucks) at the Quakertown site.
- Pope John Paul II Regional, Bridesburg, merges with St. Timothy at the Levick Street site.
- St. George, Port Richmond, merges with Our Lady of Port Richmond at the Thompson Street site.
- Holy Cross, Mt. Airy, merges with Our Mother of Consolation, Chestnut Hill, at the E. Chestnut Hill Ave. site.
- St. Bridget, East Falls, merges with Holy Child, Manayunk, at the Hermitage Street site.
- Incarnation of our Lord, Olney, merges with St. Helena at the N. Fifth Street site.
- Our Lady of Consolation, Tacony, merges with St. Matthew at the Cottman Avenue site.
- Our Lady of Ransom merges with Resurrection of our Lord at the Shelmire Avenue site.
- St. William merges with St. Cecilia at the Rhawn Street site.
- St. Martin of Tours becomes a "mission school," with no change to the current school configuration.
- St. Hubert High closes outright.
- Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament merges with St. Donato at the 65th Street site.
- St. Laurentius merges with St. Peter the Apostle at the 5th Street site.
- Annunciation merges with St. Nicholas of Tolentine at the Pierce Street site.
- St. Gabriel merges with St. Thomas Aquinas at the Morris Street site.
- St. Malachy merges with Visitation BVM at the Lehigh Avenue site.
- Epiphany of our Lord, Holy Spirit, St. Richard, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Sacred Heart merge at the former Stella Maris site.
- Our Lady of Lourdes closed, students asked to select from Our Mother of Sorrows/St. Ignatius, St. Rose of Lima, Mary, Mother of Peace
- West Catholic High closes outright.
- St. Michael the Archangel, Levittown, merges with Our Lady of Grace, Penndel at the Penndel site.
- St. Mark, Bristol, merges with St. Ephrem, Bensalem, at the Bensalem site.
- Assumption BVM, Feasterville, merges with St. Bede the Venerable, Holland, at the Holland site.
- Holy Trinity, Morrisville, merges with St. John the Evangelist, Lower Makefield, at the Lower Makefield site.
- St. John the Baptist, Ottsville, merges with St. Isidore, Quakertown, at the Quakertown site.
- Conwell Egan HS closes outright