by Pete Mazzaccaro

A blue ribbon panel released a report this afternoon calling for the closure  and merger of dozens of Catholic schools in the Arch Diocese of Philadelphia. In the report, called “Faith in the Future: Sustainable Catholic Education for All Who Desire It,” Holy Cross at 144 E. Mt. Airy Ave. would merge with Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill.

OMC’s E. Chestnut Hill Avenue location would house the new, merged school, with a projected enrollment of 330 students. The name of the new school will be determined by a “joint implementation team” according to the report. See the page on OMC/Holy Cross here.

A clip from a 2010 report on OMC's enrollment.

Documents provided in the report demonstrate the need to merge the schools. A 2010 report on OMC’s enrollment shows a decline of total student population from 224 to 177 since 2005, a 22 percent decline. In the same period, Holy Cross’ student enrollment shrank from 206 to 169, a 16 percent decline. Though its decline was not as steep, Holy Cross had only 58 percent of its available seats filled. OMC had 74 percent of its seats filled.

Elementary schools seemed to be particularly challenged in the Archdiocese. According to the report, of 156 elementary schools “40 to 45” are unsustainable.

From the report: “Those schools burdened by serious annual operating deficits often in parishes with heavy accumulated debts. Most of those schools have small enrollments and do not offer the key elements of a 21st century curriculum. A detailed review of these challenged schools reveals that in K through Grade 8, 34 schools have enrollments fewer than 200 and of these, 14 have fewer than 150. Eleven other schools across the Archdiocese have more than 200 students but have demonstrated a patternof decreasing enrollments and financial deficits and are therefore considered challenged. We urge that a partnering and regionalizing plan for these schools be implemented as soon as possible.”

We’re interested in hearing from parents, teachers and students of both schools. What do you think of the proposed changes? Add comments or email the Local at