ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA ANNOUNCES FINAL DECISIONS OF BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION APPEALS FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
HIGH SCHOOL DECISION DELAYED DUE TO NEW PROPOSALS
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., has reviewed and accepted the recommendations regarding elementary schools from the Review Committees assigned to hear appeals to the school restructuring outlined by the Blue Ribbon Commission. The recommendations regarding the high schools will be delayed approximately one week.
The postponement is due to recently received information regarding potential donors that has to be explored before any decision is made. Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia, said, "I recognize how anxious all of those affected by this decision are to hear the final outcome. I want to see this resolved too but this decision is too important to be made without considering absolutely every fact and all serious, substantive proposals even if they don't fit the time frame originally set. We owe it to our teachers, administrators, students and school families."
Following the January 6, 2012 announcement when the Archbishop received the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia established an appeals process to allow schools the opportunity to present fact-based evidence in support of their position to remain open or not merge.
The Review Committee, which consisted of members of the Blue Ribbon Commission and Archdiocesan administrators, began hearing appeals on January 12, 2012. At these meetings, the Review Committee presented the facts considered by the Blue Ribbon Commission in reaching its recommendation to the school administrators, and school administrators were given the opportunity to present the rationale for their appeal along with supporting facts and documentation.
"The Review Committee listened with open minds and hearts, but knew it would take hard facts to change the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission," said Archbishop Chaput. "After all, the intent of the Blue Ribbon Commission was to create a strategic plan for stabilizing and reinvigorating Catholic education in our diocese, so any decision to alter the Commission's recommendations was given a great deal of consideration as to its short- and long-term impact."
The Archbishop agreed with the assessment completed by the Review Committee to alter 18 of the original recommendations for elementary schools to close, partner or merge. These recommendations were changed for a variety of reasons, including: some schools will remain parish schools because they have demonstrated that their school is poised for long-term sustainability, some schools may be closed outright to allow welcoming schools to maintain their identity, and other schools will still form regional schools, but perhaps in a different location that may be better suited for the schools.
In addition to the appeals outcomes, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia also announced today that a plan is underway to structure and fund up to 14 mission schools to ensure their long-term viability. The committed and engaged community leaders have completed a similar mission program at St. Martin de Porres School, and hope that this effort will be replicated once funding is able to be secured.
"We are pleased to be working with these Catholic community leaders, who have stepped forward at such a critical time for Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," said Archbishop Chaput. "This entire Blue Ribbon Commission process has led people to approach us with creative ideas, solutions and resources that help us to continue our mission to provide families access to an affordable, quality Catholic education. We have engaged a whole new group of people and reengaged others that will help to make the future of Catholic education a bright one."
While there is no assurance that schools under review will ultimately become mission schools, the schools presently under consideration include: St. Helena and Incarnation of Our Lord partnered at the St. Helena site, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Donato partnered at the St. Donato site, St. Gabriel, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Malachy, Visitation BVM, Our Mother of Sorrows/St. Ignatius, St. Rose of Lima, Mary, Mother of Peace, St. Martin of Tours, The DePaul Catholic School, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Peter the Apostle, and St. Veronica.
"This entire process is just a beginning to reinvigorating Catholic education," said Archbishop Chaput. "Let's not lose sight of the fact that legislation allowing parents to decide where their children go to school through opportunity scholarships and greatly expanded EITC, would be a game changer for our schools in the future."
A full list of schools affected by the Review Committees' recommendations can be viewed atwww.faithinthefuture.com.