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August 11, 2006


Exploratory survey will focus on proposed sites in Royersford and Hilltown

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced plans to conduct a survey to test the viability of building two new high schools in areas of strong demographic growth. According to Bishop Joseph P. McFadden, the survey is a critical next step in a broader feasibility study, which included a thorough analysis of regional population trends and enrollment projections for two new proposed Catholic high schools - one on a 92 acre site in Royersford and another on a 63 acre site in Hilltown.

The mail survey will reach approximately 10,000 families who: 1) live within a 10-mile radius of the proposed sites; and 2) have children between third and sixth grades who are currently attending Catholic elementary schools or participating in religious education programs within their parish.

If built, the Royersford school would replace existing high school buildings in Pottstown and Norristown that are too small to accommodate the expected growth. Similarly, the Hilltown school, if built, would replace an existing school in Lansdale that has already been expanded several times over the years. Bishop McFadden emphasized that this is a study to relocate the schools, not to close them.

"We have established the groundwork of our study by analyzing the enrollment projections for our proposed schools and the growth of the communities that will surround them," said Bishop McFadden. "However, the
single most important element to the continuation of this feasibility study is the willingness of area parents to support this exciting initiative. Without their enthusiasm and interest, we will not move forward."

The Archdiocese expects to complete a review of the survey findings by early Fall. Bishop McFadden stressed that a decision to move ahead will occur only if survey results reflect positive interest and support for the schools -- that will each require minimum enrollments of 1,200 students.

Bishop McFadden emphasized the need to look forward and recognize the growth opportunities for Catholic education within the Archdiocese. He also highlighted the challenges of the current high schools, whose future students would define the enrollment of the proposed facilities.

Over the last several years, Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School executed a precedent-setting campaign which increased enrollment by 25%, added comprehensive academic initiatives, conducted a successful capital campaign and eradicated the school's operating deficit. Despite this significant success, the school continues to face the reality of shrinking demographics in Central Montgomery County, which threaten its long-term viability.

"Kennedy-Kenrick deserves to continue their success in a modern, state-of-the-art facility that will guarantee the very best Catholic education for generations to come," said Bishop McFadden.

Bishop McFadden also recognized that St. Pius X High School, which has also raised substantial funds in its own capital campaign, continues to face considerable enrollment challenges because of its undersized facility and heavy competition from larger, more modern public schools in its surrounding community. "A new facility in Royersford will put Catholic education on a level playing field in western Montgomery County," he said.

Finally, the bishop cited the enrollment success of Lansdale Catholic and the need to accommodate future growth by building a high school that can also satisfy the demand for Catholic secondary education in the portions of Bucks and Montgomery county surrounding the Hilltown site.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia currently enrolls 20,700 students in 20 Archdiocesan high schools.

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Matthew Gambino
Associate Director

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