The St. Patrick School in Canonsburg is closing, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Friday afternoon.
The closing of the school on Murdock Street in Canonsburg is part of a series of school closings and mergers the diocese has undertaken in recent months. At the same time, the diocese has shuttered churches and merged parishes across the region because of declining attendance, dwindling revenue and a shortage of clergy.
The diocese pointed to the coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent loss of income, as one of the reasons the school is closing.
“Sadly, with funding sources critically reduced due to the impact of the global pandemic, we do not have the ability to financially sustain every one of our school buildings,” Bishop David Zubik said. “However, our spiritual and financial commitment to Catholic education remains strong. These decisions were made with exactly that mission in mind – to preserve and protect Catholic education in our diocese.”
The closing of St. Patrick School will go into effect June 30. It opened in September 1954 to 338 students. By the 1958-59 school year, 812 students were enrolled, but those numbers have been on a downward trajectory in recent years, according to Michelle Peduto, director of Catholic schools in the diocese. In the 2018-19 school year, 126 students were enrolled at the school, which has been educating students from kindergarten to eighth grade, with 106 enrolled in 2019-20. Enrollment was poised to be below 100 in the 2020-21 school year, she said.
On Friday, the diocese also announced it would be closing Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School in Natrona Heights, and St. John the Baptist School in Plum will be merging with St. Joseph Elementary School in Verona.
The diocese said principals, pastors, teachers and families affiliated with each school were informed of the decisions through online meetings, and that families will be assisted in relocating students to other Catholic schools.
“They’re all very sad,” Peduto said. “This is not what we wanted to do. The challenges are insurmountable.”
Students enrolled at St. Patrick School who want to continue to receive a Catholic education would be able to enroll at John F. Kennedy Catholic Elementary School in Washington, St. Louise de Marillac School in Upper St. Clair or the newly formed Ave Maria Academy, which merges four South Hills schools and will have two separate campuses.
The fate of the building that has housed St. Patrick will be in the hands of Catholic churches in Canonsburg, Peduto said.