Some Philadelphia Catholic schools spared closure

.- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has accepted the final recommendations for elementary school closures in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia but has granted appeals from 18 of the schools.

As a result of the recommendations, 10 schools will close outright, while 49 schools will form 23 regional schools.

Decisions for the four archdiocesan high schools recommended for closure will be delayed for another week, the archdiocese announced Feb. 17. Potential donors have emerged who are working to keep them open.

“I recognize how anxious all of those affected by this decision are to hear the final outcome,” Archbishop Chaput said.

“I want to see this resolved too but this decision is too important to be made without considering absolutely every fact and all serious, substantive proposals even if they don't fit the time frame originally set. We owe it to our teachers, administrators, students and school families.”

Under the original plan, 20,000 students and 1,500 students would have been affected. Now, only about 13,000 students and 1,100 teachers will be affected, schools superintendent Mary Rochford told the Catholic Standard & Times.

There are presently 156 elementary or regional Catholic schools in the archdiocese and 17 Catholic high schools.

The Blue Ribbon Commission had recommended the closures and mergers. Members of the commission and archdiocesan administrators began hearing appeals on Jan. 12.

The archbishop said that only “hard facts” could change the recommendations because the commission is intended to create a “strategic plan” to stabilize and reinvigorate Catholic education in the archdiocese.

Some recommendations were altered for various reasons. Some schools will remain parish schools because they have demonstrated long-term stability. Other schools will form regional schools, though some will do so in a location better suited for their needs.

Other plans have been announced to structure and fund up to 14 mission schools to ensure their long-term viability. These schools would be operated independently from the archdiocese while providing a Catholic education.

“This entire process is just a beginning to reinvigorating Catholic education,” the Archbishop Chaput said Feb. 17.

He said greater school choice through opportunity scholarships and a “greatly expanded” tax credit program would be “a game changer for our schools in the future.”

Archbishop Chaput canceled his trip to the consistory for new cardinals in Rome because of the school closures and other issues in the archdiocese.

The archdiocesan website lists the affected schools by clicking here.

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