No Catholic regional school in Manayunk for 2012-13, church officials say

Posted: June 19, 2012

A new regional Catholic elementary school that had been proposed for Manayunk will not open in September due to low enrollment, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Monday.

St. Blaise Regional School was going to be created through the merger of St. Bridget parish school in East Falls and Holy Child Regional School in Manayunk, and based at Holy Child. But only 155 students had registered as of Friday, and the archdiocese said the school needed to have at least 250 students to cover teacher salaries and provide a quality education.

St. Bridget's had 198 students for the 2011-12 school year, and Holy Child had 213.

Many families and Catholic educators had expected the announcement. The registration deadline for St. Blaise had been extended from March 30 until last Friday to try to encourage more families to enroll their children.

"It's sad," said Sean Stevens, who was among a group of St. Bridget parents and parishioners who tried to persuade the archdiocese to locate the regional school in East Falls.

"As a school, we felt strongly that we would be the best location for a sustainable school," he said. "The archdiocese felt differently."

Stevens said many families who had registered at St. Blaise also had signed up at other schools, but some will be scrambling to find a spot for their children in the fall.

The archdiocese said families who had registered their children at St. Blaise would be welcomed by area parish schools. In addition to St. Margaret's, families can enroll their children at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Roxborough, Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill, St. Francis Xavier in Fairmount, St. Philip Neri in Lafayette Hill, and St. Genevieve in Flourtown.

St. Blaise was proposed after a 16-member commission in January recommended several school closures and consolidations to stem declining enrollment and bring financial stability to Catholic education in the five-county archdiocese.

With Monday's announcement, a total of 34 Catholic elementary schools are closing.

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

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