By David Madden, Mike DeNardo and Todd Quinones
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - An Archdiocese panel is recommending a sweeping consolidation that includes the closure of dozens of Philadelphia-area Catholic schools.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that four high schools and 44 grade schools are among the schools that theBlue Ribbon Commission has recommended for closure.
VIEW: Commission Report
The panel's report recommends that the Philadelphia Archdiocese make the closures to stop what they called the "death spiral" of declining enrollement and higher costs. The four high schools on the list are West Catholic, St. Hubert's, Conwell Egan and Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast (two high schools that operate as a boys and girls schools on the same site).
Officials said enrollment is down 72-percent since 1961 and parish subsidiaries have increased 25-percent.
Archbishop Charles Chaput says closing and consolidating schools is necessary.
"I'm convinced that if we take this report to heart, if we apply it creatively and intelligently without losing our courage or our focus on building for the future, we can renew Catholic education across the Archdiocese."
Chaput says the report is not the last word -- but he said he had trust and confidence in the report.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter issued the following statement regarding the closure of Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools:
"...Economic recession and demographic change have affected any number of institutions in far reaching ways. It's certainly true for the City of Philadelphia. It's true for the Philadelphia School District, and now the Archdiocese faces some very tough decisions. During this period of change, let's not forget that we are one city, and we're all in this together. Now is a time for partnership and support for the young persons in our city so that everyone knows that they have high-quality educational options in the City of Philadelphia."
There are currently 17 high schools and 156 elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Web Extra: Greg Geruson Greg Geruson from the Catholic School Development Program
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