Most Rev. Bishop Joseph Bambera announced on Monday, April 11, that Sacred Heart Elementary School in Carbondale will close at the end of the current school year.
Fulfilling his commitment to announce the configuration of Diocesan Catholic Schools, specifically schools in the Holy Cross System (based in Lackawanna and Bradford Counties) and the Holy Redeemer System (based in Luzerne County) by mid-April, Bishop Bambera addressed a gathering of invited school representatives, including pastors, principals, teachers and parents, system board members, and members of the Diocesan Finance Council and Priests' Council at St. Maria Goretti Parish Center in Laflin.
Three other schools will also close: Gate of Heaven School in Dallas, St. Mary Assumption School in Pittston, and Marian Catholic School in Scranton).
“I am confident that we will now have a system that is sustainable, stable, spiritually sound and academically excellent,” His Excellency noted.
Bishop Bambera said members of his leadership team and diocesan staff have evaluated and analyzed data, specifically related to enrollment, capacity of buildings, finances and geography (proximity of buildings to each other). Results showed that: there are approximately 2,000 empty seats in the two school systems, which means that enrollment is far below capacity; the current level of parish subsidy is over 23% of parish income for most parishes, which is no longer realistic; and over the years the Diocese has infused almost $19 million dollars of Diocesan funds into its school system, including approximately $9.2 million in the Holy Cross and Holy Redeemer systems
Sacred Heart principal Mrs. Ellen Murphy began working at the school as a teacher in 1981, when it was Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. She has served in her current position for the last 15 years.
“At the time of the Bishop’s announcement, we had registered 194 students, kindergarten through 8th-grade, for the next school year,” Mrs. Murphy told the NEWS. “The night after his announcement, about 200 parents met here at the school to talk about the future. About 75%, or 150 of the students registered at Sacred Heart for this fall will be going to LaSalle Academy in Jessup. Another 10 plan to attend other Catholic schools.” Bishop Bambera stressed that the decisions made are not an indication of the quality of the schools that will close, but rather are based on what is believed to be the best composition of the system at this time. “These decisions do not diminish our continued commitment to Catholic school education,” he stated.