Faith in the Future Foundation’s management of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s 15 Catholic high schools will end June 30, according to a letter by both parties released April 8.
The pact signed 10 years ago by which the foundation, led by business leaders in the Philadelphia region to manage school operations, will expire June 30 when the archdiocese will resume full operational control and continue to retain ownership of the schools.
The letter signed by Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, who oversees Catholic education in the archdiocese, and Edward Hanway, board chair of Faith in the Future, touted the foundation’s “strategic leadership.”
The partnership since 2012 has “enhanced academic excellence” and improved use of technology in the high schools, kept Catholic identity “at the core of archdiocesan schools” and stabilized enrollment, according to the letter.
While school enrollment has been declining for many years, the rate of decline slowed significantly, to between 1% and 3% during the early years of Faith in the Future’s management.
Enrollment at archdiocesan high schools was 10,468 in 2020, the latest year available for figures, among the 17 schools at that time; two schools closed June 2021. That is a decline of 26% from 14,205 in 2012.
Although the letter said the foundation has “delivered financial sustainability (and) increased affordability for families,” it did not specify how much money has been raised in its 10-year association.
The letter did point out that all donated funds restricted for the purpose of support for students and families would continue to be used in that manner.
Thanking the “various foundations and individual donors who made contributions to Faith in the Future for a variety of worthy purposes,” the signatories of the letter said that “the majority of those gifts were made for specific purposes with donor restrictions. Those restrictions will be respected and the donated funds expended consistent with their express purpose.”
With the end of the agreement, a “new operational management structure” will be implemented for centralized administration of the high schools, according to the letter.
Faith in the Future’s current Chief Operating Officer Jay DeFruscio will hold the new title of chief operating officer for secondary education and report directly to Bishop Fitzgerald. The position will provide “supervisory oversight for high school presidents and work in collaboration with the local boards of each high school,” the letter read.
The position will also supervise the superintendent for secondary schools, who will have “administrative jurisdiction over the high school principals.”
The superintendent will also supervise centralized staff in the Office for Catholic Education.
The superintendent role has been filled by Nancy Kurtz on an interim basis since the death last year of Sister Maureen McDermott, I.H.M.
Hanway and Bishop Fitzgerald said in concluding their letter that their “shared top priority” is to provide an “exceptional Catholic education” for students at archdiocesan high schools.
“Our schools exist to educate and form young men and women of character who graduate poised to lead through service to others with the heart of a missionary disciple,” they wrote. “We are grateful for the trust placed in us by school families throughout the region and pledge to do our utmost for their benefit.”
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