A for Athlete



School to close after 2010-2011 school year[]

Millvale's Mount Alvernia High School to close:Saturday, December 11, 2010 By Emily Gibb, Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMount Alvernia High School's severely declining enrollment is forcing the school to permanently shut its doors in June.

The all-girls Catholic high school is located in Millvale on the regional campus of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. The Sisters of St. Francis sponsor and operate the school, which opened 75 years ago.

It comes as a blow to many families and faculty members who are just finishing up the first half of the school year.

"Parents like the small, family-like environment of the school. They have told us over and over how much their daughters liked the school," said Sister Patricia Burkard, head of the religious order.

In its peak during the 1990s, the school had around 150 students. This year, the school year began with only 64.

While the school has seen a gradual decline in enrollment over the years as the area demographic changes, the greatest decline began in 2008 around the same time the economy declined.

Those factors, combined with a decrease in the quantity of school-age children, has forced the diocese to close many of the schools that historically fed into Mount Alvernia.

"In reality, the school is victim to outside forces of which we didn't have any control," Sister Burkard said.

The decision to close the school came after much deliberation by administrators and the school's board.

As the board looked ahead to next year, they were anticipating an exceptionally high deficit, as the enrollment drop-off had a serious impact on the school's finances.

"They felt they couldn't continue subsidizing the school with that deficit," she said.

School officials announced the closure last night at a parents' meeting. They wanted to let parents and students know as soon as possible so that they can have an ample amount of time to choose a school for next year, Sister Burkard said.

Officials from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will be working with the school administration to help families choose a different Catholic school by setting up open houses and other visitations. The closest Catholic high schools to Mount Alvernia are North Catholic and another all-girls school, Oakland Catholic, but each family's choice will heavily depend on where students live and the family's financial situation, Sister Burkard said.

The board and the sisters looked at it from all perspectives to see if there was any way possible to keep it open, she said. "But none of that was enough to surmount the challenges.

"The school is very successful in its work, and that's what makes it so hard for this decision to be made." Emily Gibb: egibb@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1985.

Read more: http://post-gazette.com/pg/10345/1110018-55.stm#ixzz17reAypsk