2 parish schools to temporarily merge for fall Enrollment dropped unexpectedly at All Saints in Bridesburg. Students will attend St. John Cantius.

Posted: June 02, 2004

A sharp drop in enrollment at a Catholic elementary school in Bridesburg has prompted Cardinal Justin Rigali to approve a temporary plan for sending its students to a neighboring parochial school this fall.

In March, Rigali had given the parish councils of All Saints and St. John Cantius permission to consider possibly merging at the end of the 2004-2005 school year because of declining enrollment and rising costs. But an unexpected drop in enrollment at All Saints now has prompted church officials to act before September.

Instead of the 157 students that All Saints officials projected for the fall, only 71 had registered as of May 19. The total included four first graders and two pupils each for third and seventh grades.

"Immediate measures are needed to preserve the educational integrity of the school and manage the inherent financial challenges of the parish," archdiocesan officials said in a statement distributed to parishioners over the weekend.

St. John Cantius has registered all 145 students it projected for the fall.

Under the one-year plan approved by the cardinal, All Saints students will attend classes at nearby St. John Cantius for the next school year.

Although students from the two schools will attend class together, they will retain their affiliation with their individual schools. Eighth graders will receive diplomas from their individual schools next June.

Church officials said the two home-and-school associations would work to ease the transition and coordinate social events and sports.

All students who had registered as of yesterday were assured space at St. John Cantius.

Despite the one-year consolidation, councils in both parishes will continue their school feasibility studies. They are expected to submit their recommendations to Rigali by the end of December.

Contact staff writer Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or at martha.woodall@phillynews.com.

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