Reprieve for Girard College Class of 2015

Bernard Oliver, a graduate of the Class of 1978, speaks at a rally outside Girard College after the last day of school for the academic year. Boarding and high school programs are to be suspended to deal with economic shortfalls.
Bernard Oliver, a graduate of the Class of 1978, speaks at a rally outside Girard College after the last day of school for the academic year. Boarding and high school programs are to be suspended to deal with economic shortfalls. (LUKE RAFFERTY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 22, 2013

Members of Girard College's Class of 2015 will be able to earn high school diplomas at Girard after all.

The Board of Directors of City Trusts, which oversees the free, private boarding school for low-income children in North Philadelphia, said Thursday it had made arrangements with Community College of Philadelphia to allow the 43 students in the Class of 2015 to complete their education at Girard.

Under the temporary arrangement, CCP instructors would teach classes to students on Girard's campus in the morning and the students would be able to earn accelerated college credits at CCP in the afternoon.

The board said in a statement that Girard would cover all costs associated with the CCP program, including teachers, tuition, and books.

"Students will attend Girard as day students only; none will board at Girard during the 2014-15 academic year," the statement said. "The program is open to every member of Girard's Class of 2015, and it is expected to cost approximately $500,000 for one year."

The move follows the board's recent decision to ask Orphans' Court for permission to temporarily end Girard's residential and high school programs in the fall of 2014 to cut costs and replenish shrinking reserves.

Officials have said that if Girard does not rein in spending now, funds from the Girard Estate that support the school could be exhausted in 25 years and the school would be forced to close.

On Thursday, Girard College said its decision to scale back operations "would have a disproportionate impact" on students who are on track to complete their junior year in 2013-14 but would be forced to find new schools for their senior year.

Bernard W. Smalley, head of the board's Girard College committee, said the board had asked Girard's leaders "to investigate other options for the Class of 2015, and this partnership with Community College of Philadelphia is among the most promising of the alternatives because it will allow our students to graduate with a Girard diploma while also earning college credit and reducing the cost of their college careers."

Virginia Dennis of Juniata Park said she was pleased that the move would benefit her son, Brandon Dixon, 15, but concerned that it would not help other students.

"Yes, I want my son to be able to graduate from Girard, but I can't turn my back on the others," Dennis said. "I still think it's not fair to the rest of the students in the high school."

Noting that Girard has said it would not run out of money for 25 years, Dennis said the board should provide the funds so all the high school students can graduate from Girard.

She said parents, students, alumni, and others plan to fight when the board files a petition in Orphans' Court to end the day and high school programs.


Contact Martha Woodall

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

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