St. George School in Port Richmond shocked by closure news

Saint George School in Port Richmond

January 11, 2012 2:48:10 PM PST
Among the area Catholic Schools targeted by the Philadelphia Archdiocese to close at the end of this school year, none is more surprised at the decision than an elementary school in Port Richmond.

That's because the St. George School on East Venango an institution in the neighborhood and, unlike some of the other schools scheduled to close, St. George is self-sustaining and has a stable student enrollment.

The school community is vowing to fight the decision by the archdiocese to close what, they call, a neighborhood institution.

"I was flabbergasted. Never in a million years did I think they'd come after us," said Louise Lorina. "We are at capacity and we have zero deficit to the archdiocese. This doesn't make sense."

Indeed, this school is different in that it raises its own funding.

"We don't borrow money from them, we don't depend on them financially for anything," said Principal David Markowski.

Unlike many other schools in the archdiocese, the St. George School is far from having a dwindling enrollment.

"We have a waiting list for my school," Markowski said. "When we start our registration on January 1st our phone is ringing off the hook."

The archdiocese wants St. George to merge with Our Lady of Port Richmond School nearby and become one regional school.

"In a regional school it is difficult to maintain your parish spirit," said Monsignor Joseph Anderlonis. "When your children are so close - our church is right upstairs - we can do a lot of things with our children right on site and that's part of the Catholic mission.

That's why the monsignor and teachers here say they'll do everything they keep St. George open.

"We know what we're doing is good, we value it highly," said Monsignor Anderlonis. "We have no course but to go the distance as far as we can go."

St. George will have an appeal hearing with the archdiocese next Tuesday. Principal Markowski is hopeful saying there is strength in numbers.