Northeast Times

Opinion: Local legislators weigh in on Catholic school closings

State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) and City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on (R-6th dist.) share their thoughts on last week's an­nounce­ment.

As I waited for the Arch­diocese brief­ing on the Faith in the Fu­ture Plan to be­gin, which oc­curred just a few hours pri­or to the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment, I glanced down at the pack­et of in­form­a­tion that was handed out as you entered the room. Someone next to me said, “This is the only pa­per you really need.” It was the list of the af­fected schools.

As I looked at the list, I was shocked at what I saw. While I ex­pec­ted massive clos­ings throughout the Arch­diocese, I some­how thought that our neigh­bor­hood would be spared be­cause we already en­dured re­cent clos­ings and mer­gers which left us with only five gram­mar schools and without North Cath­ol­ic.

Surely, they would not do this to us again.

But there it was: St. Lauren­ti­us in Fishtown, St. George in Port Rich­mond and Pope John Paul II in Brides­burg. Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion, Our Lady of Ransom and St. Hubert’s High School— all closed.

Of course, the doc­u­ments read “com­bined,” but the real­ity is they will be closed.

So, what should we do?

First, there is go­ing to be an ap­peals pro­cess. Thus far these clos­ings are “re­com­mend­a­tions.” They will be ac­cep­ted by the Arch­bish­op un­less there is an ap­peal.

In his state­ment de­scrib­ing the ap­peals pro­cess, Arch­bish­op Chaput clearly stated that the ap­peal must ar­tic­u­late why the Com­mis­sion is wrong in their basis for the re­com­mend­a­tion. In oth­er words, a school com­munity needs to show why they feel there is long term vi­ab­il­ity for that school.

File an ap­peal if the Com­mis­sion is wrong in their con­clu­sions. I would like to help in this re­gard in any way I can. If there are meet­ings among par­ents, teach­ers, pas­tors and/or ad­min­is­trat­ors, please let me know and I will be glad to par­ti­cip­ate.

I don’t want to pre­tend that any of this will be easy. It will not. But it may be worth a try.

In ad­di­tion, for de­tails about the Plan and to get ques­tions answered, please go to faith­in­the­fu­ture.com. If your ques­tions are not answered after con­sult­ing the site, please call any of my of­fices and we will get you an­swers.

This is all a sad de­vel­op­ment for our neigh­bor­hoods and our church. Many of us have already been through the pain and in­con­veni­ence of school clos­ings and the trans­ition that fol­lows. If I can help in any way, please feel free to con­tact me at (215) 425-0901, 215-744-3009 or 215-744-2600.

State Rep. John Taylor

R- 177th dist.

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Last Fri­day, the Arch­diocese an­nounced its plan to close or merge a num­ber of schools in the North­east, in­clud­ing: St. George, Our Lady of Con­sol­a­tion, Our Lady of Ransom, and St. Hubert’s.

Hav­ing grown up in St. Bartho­lomew’s par­ish and gradu­ated from North Cath­ol­ic High School, I have firsthand know­ledge of the value of Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion to our City’s fam­il­ies and neigh­bor­hoods. 

Both of the schools I at­ten­ded as a child have closed and I un­der­stand the emo­tion­al im­pact that the shut­ter­ing of these in­sti­tu­tions has on the alumni, cur­rent stu­dents and sur­round­ing com­munity.

While the de­cision to close so many of our Cath­ol­ic ele­ment­ary and high schools is dis­heart­en­ing, it’s im­per­at­ive that we fo­cus on mak­ing the dis­placed stu­dents’ trans­ition as seam­less as pos­sible mov­ing for­ward and that the va­cated build­ings are util­ized quickly, re­spons­ibly and in a man­ner con­sist­ent with the needs of the sur­round­ing com­munit­ies.

I will con­tin­ue to work with the May­or and my coun­cil col­leagues to en­sure that the chal­lenges cre­ated by these clos­ings are ad­dressed and look for­ward to an open dia­logue with the Arch­diocese as we move for­ward.

An af­ford­able, ac­cess­ible and sus­tain­able Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion sys­tem – one in which stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers and ad­min­is­trat­ors are each em­powered to suc­ceed – is in many ways es­sen­tial to our City’s fu­ture.

Sin­cerely,

Bobby Hen­on

Coun­cil­man, R-6th Dis­trict

You can reach at star@bsmphilly.com.

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