Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

More School Reorganizations Coming Soon, Bishop Declares

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

More School Reorganizations Coming Soon, Bishop Declares

Article excerpt

Bishop David Zubik said Sunday that the sweeping reorganization of Roman Catholic schools in the North Hills will likely soon be duplicated in the rest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

His comments came a day after the diocese announced that it would put 10 schools under a single administration run by a nonprofit group called North Hills Catholic Elementary Schools. The move comes as Catholic schools struggle with declining enrollment, echoing lower birth rates in the Catholic population, and with tuition costs that are a barrier for many parents.

Rather than an individual or group of parishes supporting each school, the region's 32 parishes will jointly support the schools.

"The parish school model just isn't going to cut it anymore," Bishop Zubik said in a meeting with reporters Sunday morning outside St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

He said the diocese initially hoped to do similar reorganizations of schools to the east, south and west of the city.

"Originally, we were going to do each segment a year at a time and learn from the North Hills experience," Bishop Zubik said.

But he said the financial difficulties of schools diocese-wide mean that the diocese will have to speed up that process, although he did not give a specific timeline. He said he hopes existing schools can avoid the fate of Holy Redeemer Elementary School in Ellwood City, which the diocese announced Saturday would close.

"We want to avoid the unnecessary closure of schools," he said.

The school changes are part of the larger On Mission for the Church Alive restructuring plan, in which the diocese is attempting to combine an evangelistic push with the need to get leaner amid declining membership and Mass attendance.

The diocese has seen a 50 percent drop in overall elementary school enrollment since 2000, and the North Hills schools are themselves down by more than 40 percent in the past decade overall, with some individuals down as much as 60 percent. …

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