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Catholic Diocese Merging Several Schools, Closing 1 Elementary School

ELWOOD CITY (KDKA) -- The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is announcing new plans for parish schools in the North Hills.

Beginning in the fall of 2017, ten Catholic elementary schools in the North Hills will become a ministry of all 32 parishes in the region, which will provide support for all of the schools.

Several schools will be merging, as part of a "regionalized" schools model":

  • Saint Alexis and Saint Alphonsus schools in Wexford will merge to form a new elementary school with two campuses. Pre-K classes will be held at Saint Alexis and grades K-8 will be located at Saint Alphonsus.
  • Saint Bonaventure School in Shaler Township, Saint Ursula School in Allison Park, and Saint Mary of the Assumption School in Glenshaw will merge to form a new school with two campuses. Pre-K classes will be held at Saint Bonaventure and grades K-8 will be located at Saint Mary of the Assumption. The Saint Ursula school building will close in June.
  • Saint Sebastian School in Ross Township and Saint Teresa of Avila School in Perrysville will merge to form a new school with two campuses. Pre-K and Kindergarten classes will be held at Saint Teresa of Avila and grades 1-8 will be located at Saint Sebastian. While the K-8 model is the parent-preferred model in the North Hills schools, the recommendation of Pre-K and Kindergarten at the Saint Teresa site was, in fact, reflective of that particular task force.
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Bellevue and Northside Catholic School in Brighton Heights will develop strategic plans for the 2017-18 academic year. No changes are planned at this time.
  • Saint James School in Sewickley and Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy in Aspinwall are not scheduled for reconfiguration, and will operate under the same regional governance structure as the eight schools listed above.

The names of the new schools will be announced later.

The shared governance model is expected to be implemented in the future in all other regions of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

"The purpose of regionalization is first and foremost to benefit our students and to strengthen Catholic education," Bishop Zubik wrote in a letter to parishioners and parents. "This new, regional form of school governance seeks to address concerns voiced by our pastors and parishioners, many parents among them, regarding the financial pressure on parishes that currently sponsor individual schools."

Additionally, the K-6 education program at Holy Redeemer Catholic Elementary School in Ellwood City will close in June.

In a news release, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh cites declining enrollment as the reason behind the decision.

Father Mark Thomas, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, reportedly requested and received approval from Bishop David Zubik to make the change.

In his letter to Bishop Zubik, Father Thomas cited low enrollments, high per-pupil costs, rising tuition and increased parish subsidy projected for school operations as the reasons for his request to close the school.

Established in 1945, Holy Redeemer Catholic Elementary School has been experiencing a reduction in its student population in recent years, with 42 students currently enrolled in grades K-6, and 13 students in Pre-K.

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