PITTSBURGH - Amid declining enrollment and financial problems, Channel 11 spoke with Bishop David Zubik on the issues facing the Catholic Church.
"I'm committed to Catholic schools and Catholic education, and it's critically important that we work together," Zubik said.
Parents are adjusting to the merging of Catholic schools in the North Hills.
Bishop Zubik told Channel 11 the ambitious plan is already seeing benefits.
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"I think we want to start with this project to begin with, it's called Vincentian Collaborative, which means people working together," Zubik said.
A groundbreaking for a new senior living center in Allison Park is just one of the ways Zubik says the diocese is working together with the community to best serve the changing needs of families.
It started with consolidating schools in the North Hills.
This fall, seven grade schools turned into three academies, and Zubik is already calling the plan a success.
"So far, it's a project that is already saving a considerable amount of money," he said.
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Savings not just for the diocese, by closing outdated buildings with declining enrollments, but savings for parents looking to send their children to Catholic schools.
"But it's also offering parents an opportunity to choose a Catholic education with lower tuition costs and greater opportunity for younger people to come to know about the world and how God created it as well," Zubik said.
The plan is to merge schools a year at a time.
Next year, it will be schools in the eastern part of the diocese, then the focus will shift to schools in the south and then the west.
LIST OF CONSOLIDATED CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
- St. Alexis and St. Alphonsus schools in Wexford will merge to form a new elementary school with two campuses. Pre-K classes will be held at St. Alexis and grades K-8 will be located at St. Alphonsus.
- St. Bonaventure School in Shaler Township, St. Ursula School in Allison Park, and St. Mary of the Assumption School in Glenshaw will merge to form a new school with two campuses. Pre-K classes will be held at St. Bonaventure and grades K-8 will be located at St. Mary of the Assumption. The St. Ursula school building will close in June.
- St. Sebastian School in Ross Township and St. Teresa of Avila School in Perrysville will merge to form a new school with two campuses. Pre-K and kindergarten classes will be held at St. Teresa of Avila and grades 1-8 will be located at St. Sebastian. While the K-8 model is the parent-preferred model in the North Hills schools, the recommendation of Pre-K and kindergarten at the Saint Teresa site was, in fact, reflective of that particular task force.
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Bellevue and Northside Catholic School in Brighton Heights will develop strategic plans for the 2017-18 academic year. No changes are planned at this time.
- St. James School in Sewickley and Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy in Aspinwall are not scheduled for reconfiguration and will operate under the same regional governance structure as the eight schools listed above.
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