School closures hit administration, teachers hard

By Kevin Durso
February 1, 2012


Kathryn Lovell, graduate of St. Hubert’s ‘92 and member of the Advisory Board, announces the school’s appeal at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 13. (credit: submitted by Tony Durso)

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Blue Ribbon Commission’s school closing announcement on Friday, Jan. 6, had a clear effect on the future of school students.

Teachers and administrations, especially in future years, may have taken a hit.

Father Carl Janicki, chaplain at Cabrini College, served as president of Cardinal Dougherty High School from 2005 until its closing in June 2010. He reflected on the closing of the school he presided over in the midst of these impending closures.

“In light of this decision, I’m happy to hear there is an appeal process built into this decision,” Janicki said. “For us [at Cardinal Dougherty], it was about trying to strike a balance that there were some things that really needed our energy and focus so they would be positive for our students.”

Janicki said that the most important thing for administrators to do in this time is to allow students to remain calm and focused in this “time to grieve” while moving on to make the most of the current academic school year.

For education students, especially with Catholic background, the job market in the Archdiocese grows even tougher. When the final announcement is made on Feb. 15, just 13 Catholic high schools will remain. Still, there is hope that students working toward teaching degrees can find jobs as early as graduation.

The department chair of the education department does not believe the school closings will affect the job market.

“I do not think the closing of the four Catholic high schools will have a tremendous effect on the job market for secondary education majors,” Dr. Beverly Bryde said. “The students will need to go to another high school, either private or public, and that school will need to hire teachers to meet the increase in enrollment.”

However, current education students are skeptical that jobs will be easy to find even in public schools.

“I think that it will be more difficult for teachers to find jobs in schools in the Archdiocese,” sophomore secondary education major Sami Ysais said. “I understand that it will be difficult to find a good teaching position as it is, but if I were specifically looking for a position in a Catholic school, I would certainly be nervous.”

The teachers currently at these high schools have assistance from a union, something that should help teachers find another job in the system.

“The officers of the union assist teachers in finding new positions,” Janicki said. “They received support and assistance as they moved along.”

That still does not put the minds of future teachers at ease.

“With the number of schools decreasing, openings in the district will be less frequent,” Ysais said. “Especially if teachers in the remaining schools are keeping their positions.”

Janicki also related the closing of Cardinal Dougherty to the four high schools announced by saying that knowledge of an impending announcement made it less surprising but nonetheless painful.

If Archbishop Charles Chaput and the Blue Ribbon Commission choose to uphold all impending closures, more than 2,500 high school students and an estimated 8900 elementary school students will be attending a new school in the fall of 2012.

Those numbers mean that many teachers and administrators will also be left looking for a new job for the fall. But just as faith is a driving message to the students, it should serve the teachers and administrators as well as they prepare for whatever happens next.

Janicki said that prayer, listening and following through on the appeal process are steps that need to be taken to help students and those who guide them move on in the future.

“Understanding where that’s going to go and how you can work with where the students are going to land next by working with those administrations to make the transition as smooth as possible,” Janicki said.

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Kevin Durso

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