St. Gabe’s faculty in Grays Ferry to shut after 113 years

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St. Gabriel College in Grays Ferry will shut on the finish of the varsity yr. Picture Google Maps

St. Gabriel College will shut its doorways after educating college students in South Philly’s Grays Ferry neighborhood for greater than a century.

The choice was introduced by Independence Mission Colleges, which has overseen St. Gabriel since 2012, when the Catholic grade faculty at 30th and Dickinson streets was initially slated for closure by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. IMS oversees 14 different impartial colleges within the metropolis, together with St. Thomas Aquinas at 18th and Morris streets, which is anticipated to soak up numerous college students from St. Gabriel within the fall.

Independence Mission College President and CEO Bruce Robinson stated the choice to shut St. Gabriel on the conclusion of the 2020-21 faculty yr was primarily based on current declining enrollment and rising working prices for a principally empty constructing.

“The problem is that it’s a giant constructing and has the capability for considerably extra college students so it’s costly to function,” Robinson stated. “And we’ve one other IMS faculty 1 mile away that has the capability to soak up that. Regardless that it looks like an apparent choice and, logically, it made sense, it was nonetheless a really tough choice due to the affect it has on the scholars, academics and the neighborhood. We’ve been wrestling with this choice for the final couple of years.”

Robinson stated enrollment had dropped to beneath 130 college students, which is about 28 p.c of the constructing’s capability. St. Gabriel opened in 1908 with 456 college students. By 1920, greater than 1,300 kids had been registered with 17 sisters educating at the moment, with courses spilling over into the convent, in accordance with the varsity’s web site.

Robinson stated IMS leases its buildings from the archdiocese for $1 a yr however is chargeable for all upkeep and enhancements to the varsity, in addition to the price of utilities. Upon completion of the varsity yr, the constructing shall be returned to the archdiocese, which is able to decide its future use.

Robinson stated the opposite colleges with the IMS community are “doing fantastic” with enrollment numbers and no different colleges are in speedy hazard of closing. Robinson stated the emergence of constitution colleges within the Grays Ferry neighborhood has performed a consider declining enrollment for St. Gabriel. Tuition for St, Gabriel is $5,500 a yr however the group helps subsidize hundreds of of tuition by way of monetary assist, bringing the common value of tuition after assist to about $2,200. However competing with free constitution colleges has been a problem. Robinson stated IMS had been contemplating the closure pre-COVID-19, however the pandemic helped finalize the choice.

“I believe the pandemic actually solidified that remaining choice that was in all probability near being right here anyway,” Robinson stated. “However I believe that whenever you have a look at the neighborhood, what’s actually triggered lots of the decline in enrollment is there are some pretty good constitution faculty choices in that neighborhood. The opposite factor is there are a number of different Catholic grade colleges west of Broad Avenue, too, so there are different choices.”

Independence Mission Colleges will assist St. Gabriel college students apply for placement subsequent yr, whether or not at St. Thomas Aquinas, or someplace else inside its community. It’s ready to accommodate all college students at St. Thomas Aquinas and officers stated plans are in movement to enhance the varsity by portray school rooms, updating lighting and offering after-school care companies, together with contemplating extra concepts from college students and households. Digital faculty excursions and digital scholar and trainer meet-and-greets shall be scheduled quickly.

In accordance with officers, workers at St. Gabriel is inspired to use for different positions with the community for the beginning of the brand new faculty yr.

“These academics and different staff will get choice in interviewing for open positions throughout the community,” Robinson stated. “So we’re fairly optimistic that academics that wish to keep within the community can have a possibility to remain within the community. We have now different colleges which are searching for good folks and we’ve good folks at St. Gabe’s.”

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