St. Agnes-Sacred Heart School in Hilltown, Bucks County, will close after the current term this June. Families and faculty of the school, plus parishioners of the two parishes whose children attend it – St. Agnes in Sellersville and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Hilltown — learned the news on Sunday, April 10.
As is the case with most school closures, declining enrollment is the leading cause. But as with another recent school closure, a new “transition plan” will provide subsidies from the two parishes for students to attend nearby schools.
At this time school enrollment is 138 students but is projected to drop to 106 in the next academic year. As enrollment has declined and with it less tuition revenue, educational costs continue to rise, including teacher salaries, utilities and building maintenance.
According to a statement from the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the two parishes “can longer subsidize school operations without risking their own fiscal stability.”
Currently the in-parish tuition rate $3,935 tuition per pupil. If school operations were to continue next year under a balanced budget, the tuition rate would need to rise and the multiple student discounts be eliminated.
The parishes would also need to provide a combined subsidy of $560,000 to the school, draining parish coffers.
The transition plan announced by the pastors, Father Jeffrey Stecz of St. Agnes and Father John Schiele of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, provides for fiscal stabilization at the parishes and would open options for families of St. Agnes-Sacred Heart School.
For next year families may choose to send their child to one of six neighboring Catholic schools located five to 16 miles from both churches. Those schools include St. Jude, Chalfont; Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, North Wales; St. Isidore, Quakertown, Mater Dei Regional, Lansdale, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Doylestown and St. Joseph-St. Robert, Warrington.
St. Agnes and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parishes will provide a $1,000 subsidy per student each year they are enrolled in one of the partnering schools. The Foundation for Catholic Education will also provide a $1,000 grant for the first year’s tuition to one of the schools.
Between the two, families participating in the transition plan may pay about half the current tuition for the first year.
The school families have received a packet of information detailing the tuition options and maps for the neighboring schools, which will soon host visitation programs for the St. Agnes-Sacred Heart School students.
Families must indicate to their pastors which school their children will attend by June 1.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103