Archdiocese Holding Consultations on Schools to Ensure Accessible, Affordable Education Will be Available into the Future

November 30, 2006

The Archdiocese of Washington is starting a consultation process with parishes, schools and advisory groups in light of a recommendation from the Archdiocesan Administrative Board to merge four under-used elementary schools in the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County with neighboring Catholic schools that have space available for the students. Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl called for the consultation to ensure broad input before making any decisions about the schools.

“The Archdiocese of Washington is committed to providing as many children as possible with an affordable, accessible and quality Catholic education far into the future,” said Mr. Thomas Burnford, Secretary for Education. “While enrollment is healthy in many communities, some schools are struggling as a result of demographic shifts and finances, even with significant subsidies. We are looking at how to use our limited resources effectively so we can continue to provide an excellent education for as many students as possible.”

Two years ago, the Center City Consortium Board, which has responsibility for 14 schools in the District of Columbia, recommended a reevaluation of the schools in light of enrollment levels, available resources and facility needs. The Catholic Schools Office also has undertaken a broader evaluation of many of the Archdiocese’s 75 parochial (parish-based) elementary schools including enrollment trends, academic achievement, facility needs and finances.

The information was presented to the Archdiocesan Administrative Board, an advisory body composed of the Archbishop’s senior staff, in mid-November 2006. Parents, school staffs and advisory boards, and parish councils have been invited to participate in meetings that will take place over the next two weeks to ensure they have an opportunity to provide input. Additional consultation is taking place with the Archdiocesan Board of Education, Priest Council and Center City Consortium Board. After considering all of the information and recommendations from this broad consultation, Archbishop Wuerl will make decisions in January 2007.

Over the past three years, the Archdiocese of Washington has opened two parish elementary schools, merged one and is renovating a fourth to become the Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School. Located in Takoma Park, Maryland, Don Bosco Cristo Rey will open in Fall 2007 to provide low- and moderate-income students with an affordable, college-preparatory education.

The schools that will engage in the consultation process are below.

Holy Redeemer School, 1135 New Jersey Avenue, NW, has 215 students. Resources are limited to support appropriate staffing and educational needs as well as facility improvements. Students would attend Immaculate Conception, Holy Name or St. Augustine schools.

St. Benedict the Moor School, 320 21st Street, NE, has 145 students. This year’s deficit is over $376,000. Students would attend Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian School on East Capitol Street.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, 1409 V Street, SE (lower school) and 1604 Morris Road, SE (middle school) has 133 students. In addition to challenges with enrollment, the deficit is estimated to be over $600,000 this year and the buildings are in need of extensive repairs or replacement. An independent study completed in 2000 recommended replacement at a cost of $6.5 million (estimated at $8 million or more today). Students would attend Assumption Catholic School, as well as St. Thomas More and St. Francis Xavier schools.

In Prince George’s County, St. Margaret of Scotland School, 410 Addison Road South, Seat Pleasant, has an enrollment of 150 students, a decline of 42 percent in five years. Neighborhood public schools also have shown declining enrollment. Students would attend Mount Calvary School in Forestville or other neighboring Catholic schools.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to 111 archdiocesan and independent Catholic schools located in Washington, DC and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]