St. Bridget School denied appeal to stay open in East Falls

Update, 12:15 p.m.: 

A lifelong East Falls resident and 1971 graduate of St. Bridget School says she’s furious with the archdiocese’s decision to reject an appeal that would keep the doors open at her alma mater. 

“I’m not happy.” Peggy Cassidy said. “It’s such a wrong decision and I really want an explanation for this.”

Cassidy set out last month to start a fund-raising campaign with other alumni to keep the school open, but says those efforts didn’t get very far since they were unable to receive a list of graduates from the school.

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“We’re kind of at a standstill and we put those plans on hold until this decision came out,” she said.

Christina Spino, a 1999 graduate of St. Bridget, sees this announcement as a call to action.

“I think we should protest this because it’s just not going to work,” she said. 

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has denied an appeal from St. Bridget Elementary School in East Falls to keep the building open.

The school is one of 44 elementary schools learning their fates today from the archdiocese, ending an appeals period that began last month with the school closing recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission.

St. Bridget’s principal, Susan Canio, said she could not immediately comment on the announcement because faculty, staff, students and parents were being informed of the news this morning. 

Under the Commission’s plan, St. Bridget’s, which is at Midvale Avenue and Stanton Street, would merge with Holy Child Elementary School on Hermitage Street in Manayunk. The consolidated schools would operate out of Holy Child’s current location on Hermitage Street. The changes would take effect after the 2011-2012 school year.

It’s part of the Archdiocese’s response to decling enrollment and rising costs at its schools. According to the report, St. Bridget’s school is at 50 percent capacity while the parish faces a deficit of $175,000. 

St. Bridget’s appeal suggested that the consolidated school be located in East Falls, rather than Manayunk. The East Falls Community Council sent the Philadelphia archdiocese a letter in support of that proposal on Jan. 16 and a Facebook page was created by alumni to start a dialogue about the plan. 

According to the Faith in the Future website, the proposed name for the consolidated school is Saint Blaise Regional Catholic School, it would be located at Holy Child’s site on Hermitage and it would have an enrollment of 410 students. 

Holy Child’s principal, Michael Patterson, declined to comment on the announcement. 

The appeals decisions for four high schools on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s list were put off for a week so Archbishop Charles Chaput could review new financial information for the schools, which all have had alumni fund-raising campaigns to keep them open.

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