Girard College won’t have high school students, boarding option

Girard College. Wikimedia Commons.
Girard College. Wikimedia Commons.

The Board of Directors of City Trusts with Girard College today announced that starting in the fall of 2014, it will no longer offer a high school option or a residential program.

The current model will still be in place for the next school year.

For the 2014-2015 school year, Girard will operate as a grades 1 though 8 extended day school for 425 students, with no boarding program.

Ronald Donatucci, president of the board of city trusts, said the decision was “extraordinarily painful” and it was done purely for financial reasons.

“We have concluded that by addressing Girard’s financial and infrastructure challenges today, we can ensure the long-term viability of this institution while strengthening the educational program of the school,” Donatucci said in a statement today.

Girard College is a free boarding school for low income children from single-parent families in North Philadelphia. It’s been in existence since 1848. There are presently 405 students enrolled in grades 1 through 12. The number of displaced students the college would find schools for is about 150, said Kevin A. Feeley, spokesman for the board.

Board members also announced they have some transition options in place for the students who would be affected by the changes. Milton Hershey School in Hershey may accommodate some upperclassmen, according to a news release.

“The board said today that it was committing to completing a detailed transition plan that would have a place for every child who might be impacted,” Feeley said. ”

He added that the board has spoken with a number of public, charter and private schools.

Officials said the college’s residuary fund reached $333 million in 2007 but by June of 2009, the money decreased to $210 million. It’s been increasing, according to a news release, however it’s only at $230 million today. Officials said under current spending levels, the fund would in 25 years be exhausted.

“We must reign in spending now and replenish the Fund until it is healthy enough to gradually grow back to the 1-12 residential model,” said Joseph S. Martz, executive director of the Girard Estate.

Officials have said this change is only temporary.

“The only way this decision was made was with the understanding it would be temporary in nature,” Feeley said of the board. “The board is unanimous in making sure we find a way to get back.”

 


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