Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese closing Saint Sylvester School in Brentwood
Citing rapidly declining enrollment, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that Saint Sylvester School in Brentwood will not re-open for the 2019-2020 school year.
The school’s current enrollment level is just 57 students in Kindergarten through eighth grade, the diocese said. Arrangements are being made to help those students attend a neighboring Catholic School this fall.
“As one who benefited from Catholic education as a student for 24 years and 13 years on the other side of the desk as a teacher and administrator in secondary education, I truly feel the pain of this loss,” said Bishop David A. Zubik in a Monday letter to parishioners, faculty and school families.
Zubik’s decision to close the school, effective immediately, was in response to a petition he received several months ago from the Rev. Steve Kresak, the parish’s priest-administrator. Zubik previously said the school could remain open for an additional year so its future could be assessed by the yet-to-be established board for the future South Hills Regional Catholic Elementary Schools. That board is expected to be established in July 2020.
In his letter, Zubik explained that, in February when he had given permission for the school to remain open for one more year, 89 students were enrolled. Subsequently, enrollment for 2019-20 dropped to 57.
“These enrollment figures, reflecting the sharp decline of students since my earlier letter to you, have raised serious questions about the quality of education that students would receive. In addition, there must be concern about growing operating expenses and whether it is a wise use of financial resources to support such a small program,” he wrote. “Of greatest concern to me is our ability to provide a school environment that nurtures academic, spiritual, social and emotional formation at every grade level.”
Zubik said the parish is committed to giving a $1,000 scholarship to students who decide to attend another Catholic elementary school for the 2018-19 school year.
A special celebration is being planned to honor the legacy of Saint Sylvester School, according to a news release. The date of that celebration has yet to be determined.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].