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Girard College board considering response to decision rejecting request to drop boarding, high school programs

An Orphan's Court judge rejected a petition on Monday by Girard College to temporarily cease boarding students and offering high school classes while they try to reestablish financial stability.

Girard College. Credit: Wikimedia Commons Girard College.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

An Orphan's Court judge has rejected by Girard College to temporarily cease boarding students and offering high school classes while they try to reestablish financial stability.

"We're very gratified that the judge ruled the way he did and preserved Stephen Girard's intention to provide residential education through to high school graduation. We think that's the fundamental purpose of Girard College," said Joseph Samuel, president of the Girard College Alumni Association.

"This court commends the Board of City Trusts for beginning to confront the myriad of financial, educational and institutional challenges currently facing Girard College. However, at this time, this court cannot permit the board to modify the will of Stephen Girard as request," wrote Judge Joseph O'Keefe in a decision issued on Friday and released to the public on Monday.

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The board of Girard College has not yet decided whether to appeal the judge's decision decision, said Kevin Feeley, an alumnus of the school and spokesman for the Board of City Trusts, which supervises Girard College.

"The board disagrees with his decision," Feeley said. "Girard is spending more money than it's taking in, that's a problem for the long term. ... In the board's view, it was trying to get out in front of it before we reached the point of no return."

"We love Girard, we know what good it does, and we want it to continue, the dispute is how to make that happen. In the board's view it's to make those temporary restrictions, so the trust can grow back and support the full program for another 160 years," Feeley said.

The college was opened in 1848. Stephen Girard, the wealthiest man in the country at the time, left a will directing his fortune to be used for a free boarding school for poor students.

The board's proposed plan would suspend high school classes, maintain K-8 classes, and increase the number of students from 300 to 425, reports say.

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