Philadelphia parochial schools learn rules for challenging closing threat

Leaders from the nearly 50 Philadelphia area Catholic schools slated to close or be consolidated, met on Tuesday with officials from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Officials from the Archdiocese say the goal is to put in place a plan that, while painful, will prevent additional school closings in a few years.
Mary Rochford is the Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”We all like things the way they’ve been and so if my child walks three blocks to school, that’s the way I want it to be for forever,” said Rochford.  “But this plan is about the present, but it’s very much about the future.  And we’re looking at the demographics, the cost of educating children today – all of us: teachers, principals, pastors, children, we all have to take on a new mindset.”Rochford said schools that disagree with the plan, can present additional information to a review committee composed of officials from the Archdiocese and members of the Blue Ribbon Commission that designed the plan. 

She said schools are welcome to appeal if they think the decision to close or consolidate was made based on faulty information.  But she stresses that the appeals should be based on facts, not emotions.”If a school comes in and says, ‘Well we have a five year plan to double our enrollment’ but we look at their enrollment history and it shows it’s declined every year over the past nine years, we don’t have great confidence that, OK you can take five years to see if that’s going to happen,” said Rochford.  “Because we don’t have that kind of time.”

Pastors and principals they have until February 1 to request a meeting to appeal the decision.

The review committee will present its recommendations to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is expected to make the final decision by mid-February.

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