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Girard College Announces Changes In School Operations To Stay Financially Afloat

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Girard College, the 164-year-old boarding school for poor children, has announced plans to end its residential program and drop its high school in an effort to stay financially afloat.

Girard College is seeking the okay to operate as a first-through-eighth-grade day school, instead of the one-through-twelve residential school it is now.  Joe Martz, the executive director of the Board of City Trusts, which oversees the school, says recession losses to the trust that subsidizes the school, and rising infrastructure costs are to blame.

"These steps are being taken so that Girard can fully recover from the economic losses that have affected all of us," said Martz.

School officials say they'll try to place the affected students at the Hershey School, or other private or public schools.  But Dan Knittel, a class of '94 alum, wonders if the students will do as well.

"We're thinking about the students who are here currently who are not going to get what we've received from this school, which is a safe place to go to school, a place to lay your head five to six nights a week and also three hot meals.  That's some of the things that the kids that are here are lacking.  That's why they're here," said Knittel.

About 100 employees would lose their jobs next year should the changes take effect.  School officials call the changes "temporary." But they don't say how long they'll last.

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