Students, parents and teachers are still reeling from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s decision to close 44 elementary and four high schools in June, but officials said the massive cuts are a result of years of inaction.
While a handful of schools have been closed in recent years, several schools have continued operating at a deficit due to the gap between tuition and costs per pupil.
“If the governance model that we’ve talked about works, we won’t be doing 40 schools again ever — because you can’t manage something episodically like we’ve done,” said John Quindlen, chair of the 16-member Blue Ribbon Commission that Cardinal Justin Rigali assembled 13 months ago.
Under the new model, there will be an Executive Board of Education chaired by the auxiliary bishop responsible for overseeing Catholic education and four additional boards focusing on elementary schools, secondary schools, religious education and special education.
While they acknowledge the pain in the short-term, officials hope the moves will stop the bleeding and facilitate growth.
“I have no crystal ball,” Catholic schools teachers’ union President Rita Schwartz said, noting about 150 teachers work in the four high schools and another 400 to 500 grammar school teachers could be affected. “I would hope that what they put forth to us today is going to work and work well.”
An online petition urging the Archdiocese to keep St. Hubert School for Girls open had more than 5,000 signatures already. A comment from one signer read: “I want my youngest sister (who is a Sohpomore) to graduate as a Bambi like I did and my other sister. Brown and Gold Pride!”