Parochial school in Bethel Park is set to close
An attempt to sustain Catholic education by merging two schools in the Bethel Park area will end with the closing of St. Katharine Drexel at the end of the school year.
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced the closing on Sunday, and pastors discussed the closing at Masses at St. Germaine Parish in Bethel Park and Nativity Parish in South Park.
“After weighing all the input from parish/school advisers and diocesan staff,” a statement from diocesan officials said, “the pastors reluctantly made the decision to petition to close St. Katharine Drexel School in June 2013.
“Every effort will be made to help families make the transition to another Catholic school.”
The pastors, the Revs. John J. Baver of St. Germaine and John E. Hissrich of Nativity, and the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese, couldn't be reached for comment.
St. Katharine Drexel, which offers preschool through eighth grades in the former St. Germaine School building, was formed in 2008 with the merger of the two parishes because of significant enrollment declines at both schools, officials said.
A year before the merger, enrollment at Nativity had dropped to 48 students and St. Germaine, 86 students. Both schools had kindergarten through eighth-grade classes.
Enrollment at St. Katharine Drexel reached 101 students in K-8 in 2008-09, the first year of the merger, and 135 the following year.
However, just 73 students attended the school, a 28 percent drop, in 2012-13. Diocesan officials said the decline was expected to worsen to 61 students in 2013-14 because of projected lower school enrollment for Bethel Park and South Park, the two main communities that send children to the schools.
The diocese had hoped the merger would make it more affordable for families to send their children to the school.
But the projected cost of educating children, even after cutting staff, would be $9,500 a student next school year, officials said. That's almost twice the diocesan average.
Higher costs would have entailed a tuition increase of $1,300, or 40 percent.
“This would have been an unacceptable level for many families, and thus result in even further enrollment declines,” according to the statement.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Defying the odds makes this Thanksgiving particularly poignant
- Growth spurs expanded staff at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
- Group’s proposed fracking moratorium for Allegheny County parks to go on council agenda
- Millions in pollution fines went unused for decades in Allegheny County
- Apartment development outlined for former Schenley High School in Pittsburgh
- Rare surgery helps woman beat paralysis
- Dinners, other Thanksgiving events planned in region
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- Newsmaker: Daniel Eichinger
- Girl, 12, rescues 4-year-old sister from burning house in Homestead
- Reading Harry Potter provides clues to brain activity, CMU researchers say