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June 7, 2011


Parents at two parish elementary schools were informed at meetings on Tuesday evening, June 7, 2011, that their parish schools are unable to re-open in September 2011 due to extremely low re-registration. The two schools are:

-Our Lady of Charity Parish School in Brookhaven, Delaware County and
-Saint Philomena Parish School in Lansdowne, Delaware County.

89 children are re-registered for Our Lady of Charity School and 88 students are re-registered for Saint Philomena School. Each of the schools would have had at least one grade with fewer than five students. With such low enrollment each school would have needed minimally to cut art, physical education and library services in order to remain fiscally viable. The Standards for Quality Catholic Schools* call for all schools to provide Religion, Mathematics, Honors Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Art, Music, Physical Education and Technology and for the integration of Technology throughout all content areas.

"This was an extremely difficult decision to make because of the impact on students, families and teachers. We waited as long as possible in the hope that re-registration numbers would increase and that the schools could remain open next year," said Superintendent of Schools Mary E. Rochford. "One of the hallmarks of our Catholic schools is that we provide an outstanding education that is affordable for families. We owe it to our families to provide a rigorous and challenging academic program that is no different than what students at our other schools receive. It would not have been possible for these schools to provide that type of program next year."

Administrators from the Office of Catholic Education attended the meetings on Tuesday evening. They detailed for parents the re-registration numbers, the impact on the academic program and the costs per pupil. They also explained that the two parish schools are being asked to partner with nearby parishes:
-Our Lady of Charity School to partner with Saint Joseph School in Aston and
-Saint Philomena Parish School to partner with Saint Andrew School in Drexel Hill and/or
Saint Laurence School in Upper Darby

If the schools' buildings remained open next year, tuition would have needed to increase by thousands of dollars per student. Experience has proven that following that route would only lead to further enrollment erosion and even higher costs. The current re-registration figures would have led to costs per pupil of between $6,000 and $10,000. The parishes subsidize the schools but do not have the resources to assume costs of this magnitude. Superintendent Rochford said, "We want Catholic education to be accessible and tuition to be affordable for families. We know many families are already struggling to pay tuition during these difficult economic times and lower enrollments make that even more challenging."

The Office of Catholic Education will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for students and school families and work with the faculties to try to find other teaching positions within the Archdiocese. Open houses will be scheduled at the partner schools in coming weeks.


Our Lady of Charity Parish School
Presentation by Office of Catholic Education
Enrollment in 2005: 288
Current enrollment: 176
Re-registration: 89
Average class size in 2011-2012 would have been 9 students (6th grade would have had 3 students, 6 other grades would have had fewer than 10 students)

Saint Philomena Parish School
Presentation by Office of Catholic Education
Enrollment in 2005: 196
Current enrollment: 141
Re-registration: 88
Average class size would be 10 students (2nd grade would have 4 students, 3 other classes would have had less than 10 students.)

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Editor's Note: * Standards of Quality Catholic Schools for Parish and Regional Elementary School in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: (Updated 2003) The Standards also call for serious consideration to be given to the inclusion of a world language as well as the addition of a Resource Room to provide support to students struggling most especially in the area of English Language Arts.

Kenneth A. Gavin
Associate Director of Communications

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