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Eastern Pittsburgh Catholic schools merging into two school districts

Catholic parishes aren't the only ones being consolidated because of falling populations and financial struggles.

Several Pittsburgh area Catholic schools are being merged as well, the diocese announced this weekend.

After 18 months of study and work with the Alliance for Catholic Education from the University of Notre Dame, the diocese announced that six parishes in the East Hills and eight in the McKeesport/White Oak area will form two school districts under a "consortium model" of school support.

"Given the increased operational costs for all the schools in the area, the increasing tuition rates for families, the changing demographic and sustained economic challenges, it was important to develop a plan that will sustain the viability and affordability of Catholic school education well into the future," said the Rev. Kris D. Stubna, diocesan secretary for Catholic education, in the announcement.

According to the diocese, schools at Good Shepherd Parish in Braddock and Word of God Parish in Swissvale will close at the end of this school year. St. Maurice School in Forest Hills will be renamed East Catholic to reflect that it will serve the parishes of St. Maurice, Word of God and Good Shepherd, along with St. John Fisher of Churchill, Madonna del Castello of Swissvale and St. Colman of Turtle Creek.

East Catholic is expected to enroll as many as 400 students next school year, when tuition will be $3,200 for the first child, $2,500 for the second and $1,500 for the third. The diocese said that is "a substantial reduction" from the rates at the three schools.

In the other district, St. Angela Merici, Queen of the Rosary, Corpus Christi, St. Mark, St. Patrick, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Jude and St. Michael parishes will support a single school, to be located at St. Angela Merici school in White Oak.

St. Joseph Regional School in McKeesport will be merged into St. Angela Merici in June, with an anticipated enrollment of about 300 students next school year. Tuition will be reduced to $2,700 for the first child, $1,500 for the second and $500 for the third for the 2012-13 school year, the diocese said. The school's new name will be announced later.

The diocese says it operates the fourth-largest school system in the state, with nearly 22,000 children this year from preschool through 12th grade.

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