Group plans to save Cardinal Dougherty High School

PHILADELPHIA - December 4, 2009

The chairman of the We Are CD Foundation, Stephen Schmidt, presented a surprise letter of intent to the Archdiocese in Center City on Friday morning.

The letter states that the group has the financial backing to purchase the school.

Their plan is to operate Cardinal Dougherty as a "private" Catholic school.

"The basis of the school will be working off the academy system. We are going to have a science academy, we're going to have a teacher's academy, a medical academy, and a technology academy," Schmidt said.

He says he met with Bishop Joseph McFadden on Tuesday and was told the building, near 2nd and Godfrey in Olney, could be bought for $20 million. Schmidt says there are bankers and backers willing to make the investment once they've examined the school's financial record.

However, the Archdiocese says all of this is very premature and the group still has many hurdles in front of them.

Communications Director Donna Farrell accepted the letter, which is being turned over to Bishop McFadden. She says the Archdiocese admires the loyalty shown for Dougherty and Northeast Catholic, which will also close in June.

"We would be open to the discussion, talking to them about it, but it would be premature to be saying anything other than that," Farrell said.

The Archdiocese says, at Cardinal Dougerty, enrollment has dropped by 43% in the last 10 years with a projected drop of 34% in the next three years.

As enrollment dropped, officials said they could not hire enough teachers to offer students a diverse curriculum beyond core subjects.

The We are CD Foundation believes it can increase enrollment by lowering tuition from $5,800 to $4,300. The group has asked the Archdiocese to respond to its letter of intent in five days.

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