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Philadelphia archdiocese is closing 2 of its high schools

Nov. 20, 2020
Low enrollment is blamed for the decision to shutter John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High and Bishop McDevitt High.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia says it will close two high schools at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

The archdiocese says it has decided to shutter John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School in Philadelphia and Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Pa., after a study that looked at all 17 of the secondary schools that the archdiocese operates.

“Hallahan and Bishop McDevitt have rich histories as well as dedicated and talented faculty, administrators, staff, boards, benefactors, students, and alumni(ae) corps,” the archdiocese says. “However, they are currently operating at 36% and 40% of enrollment capacity, respectively. Enrollment forecasting reports…point to continued declines for both.”

Continued declining enrollment would have necessitated significant tuition increases to cover school operating expenses. That, the archdiocese says, would have “prohibited these schools from offering an affordable educational experience without incurring massive deficits.”

Before deciding whether to close any of the schools, the archdiocese examined current and projected enrollments, student retention rates, regional demographic trends, capacity figures, and financial solvency.

“I have an obligation to ensure that each of our students is being provided with the best educational experience possible and that their teachers and coaches are provided with the resources to fulfill that mission,” said Archbishop Nelson Pérez. “Given circumstances, those resources were depleting rapidly and could not be restored.”

The archdiocese says the decision to close the two schools was not made because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the ongoing uncertainty brought about by the pandemic has persuaded officials to take immediate action.

“Requests for tuition assistance are up 46 percent year over year,” the archdiocese says. “In addition, families who have never received financial aid now find themselves in need of support. This trend has resulted in a severe strain on available financial aid resources, particularly in schools which are heavily dependent upon it as part of the tuition payment structure.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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