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Pittsburgh Diocese Announces School Mergers Citing Declining Enrollment And Financial Challenges

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Northside Catholic School in Brighton Heights will remain open next school year.

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced two elementary school mergers and one closure over the weekend.

Church leaders report enrollment has dropped by 50 percent since 2000. The district remains the fourth largest school system in Pennsylvania, serving about 17,000 students and employing nearly 1,500 teachers.

Nicholas Vaskov, a spokesperson for the Diocese, said the cost of tuition and fewer people identifying with religion could be factors.

“We’ve seen public schools have to consolidate in recent times,” he said. “So there’s just less students to go around in general.”

Saint Rosalia Academy in Greenfield, an elementary school with 100 students, will close at the end of the academic year. According to a release from the Diocese, the closure was endorsed by the Pittsburgh-East Regional Catholic Elementary Schools Advisory Board, a group of pastors and lay members studying the financial, demographic, and enrollment situations in schools east of the city.

The board also approved the merger of North American Martyrs and Saint Bernadette School, both pre K-8 schools in Monroeville, effective next academic year.

Two schools in northern suburbs will also consolidate next school year. Students in the pre K-8 Assumption School in Bellevue will attend the Northside Catholic School building in Brighton Heights. That move was also endorsed by the Pittsburgh-East Regional Catholic Elementary Schools Advisory Board.

According to a release from the Diocese, “the NHRCES Board of Directors cited the better overall condition of the Northside Catholic building and important amenities, such as a gymnasium and integral cafeteria, not available at the Assumption campus, as some of the reasons for their request to utilize the Northside Catholic School building.”

Bishop David Zubik approved the mergers and closure as part of an ongoing effort to consolidate. In a statement, Zubik said the schools would go by Divine Mercy Academy.

Vaskov said more consolidations are possible “down the road,” but that he doesn't expect any more this year. 

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.