Archdiocese scraps plan to build a new facility for Lansdale Catholic High School

Posted: October 24, 2012

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has scrapped plans to build a new facility for Lansdale Catholic High School in Hilltown and will instead put the 68-acre site up for sale.

Officials Tuesday announced that after "careful consideration" the archdiocese had decided against moving forward with a plan announced more than four years ago to replace the building.

"The financial challenges facing the archdiocese have been clearly communicated in recent months," Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, an auxiliary bishop who oversees Catholic education, said.

"As part of an effort to improve our financial situation several real estate holdings have recently been sold or marketed for sale," he said.

In June, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said that the archdiocese faced a $17.5 million operating debt. To shore up its finances, the five-county archdiocese has been selling property.

Last month, St. Joseph's University announced it will buy the cardinal's residence on City Avenue for $10 million. A few weeks later, the archdiocese sold the former St. Joseph's Villa by the Sea in Ventnor for $4.1 million.

"Although the new high school will not be built, we are confident that Lansdale Catholic is well poised to continue providing a high quality Catholic education far into the future at its current location," Fitzgerald said.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said Lansdale students received letters Monday announcing the decision.

In the last few years, the Office of Catholic Education and Lansdale Catholic High School alumni, parents, and supporters have invested in technology and upgrades at the current building on Lansdale Avenue. A new floor and bleachers have been installed in the gymnasium, and the sound and lighting systems in the auditorium have been upgraded.

Lansdale Catholic had 782 students in the last academic year.

The archdiocese had been talking about new facilities for Lansdale for years. Back in August 2006, Bishop Joseph P. McFadden - Fitzgerald's predecessor - said the archdiocese was considering building two new Catholic high schools in Royersford and Hilltown and would survey suburban families to find out if they favored schools in those fast-growing areas of Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

Although Lansdale was overcrowded, many alumni and parents objected to the site in Hilltown at Limekiln Pike and Rickert Road because it was five miles from the existing school.

Nonetheless, then-Cardinal Justin F. Rigali announced plans in January 2008 to construct two $65 million high schools at the sites. The new school in Montgomery County school was to be built first, and the Bucks school was expected to follow in 2012.

Pope John Paul II High School opened in Royersford to great success in 2010 as a replacement facility for Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School in Norristown and St. Pius X High School in Pottstown. Pope John Paul II had 825 students in the last academic year.

The Hilltown property includes 64 acres the archdiocese bought in 2001, as well as two adjacent parcels it acquired in 2008.


Contact Martha Woodall

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

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