Many people with ties to Youngstown and Cardinal Mooney High School are giving their opinions about whether the Catholic school should move out of the city into a brand-new building in the suburbs.
Cardinal Mooney has been a fixture at Erie Street and Indianola Avenue on Youngstown’s South Side since 1956. But now, the Youngstown Catholic Diocese faces a difficult decision: Renovate the school building at its current location at an approximate cost of $18 million or build a brand new school in Boardman at an approximate cost of $25 million.
Members of Youngstown City Council and other city officials met Monday with the Board of Directors for Cardinal Mooney High School to discuss the possible relocation. The meeting was held at the high school behind closed doors and even though a quorum of City Council was present, the media was told they were not allowed inside, which could be a violation of the Sunshine Law.
“Mooney’s been a part of Youngstown for 57 years plus. And this was a must, and it was a good conversation, an honest conversation, very supportive,” said Cardinal Mooney President Rev. Gerald DeLucia following Monday’s meeting.
DeLucia and Mooney’s Board of Directors invited Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone, administrative staff and City Council to the high school for an informational meeting. The purpose was to bring city leaders up to speed on where Mooney is in its study to possibly relocate the school.
“We’ve brought a company in from Connecticut that did studies and surveys and whatnot, it’s all very helpful. But it would be both disrespectful and I think inadequate to not include Youngstown leadership,” Fr. DeLucia said.
That study by Catholic School Management of Connecticut said Mooney would sustain better enrollment for a longer period of time if it moved, adding 100 students after watching enrollment drop off in recent years. One possible location is on Western Reserve Road in Boardman.
Sammarone said it’s not that simple.
“Whatever we can do to keep them here, because Mooney’s an institution here in Youngstown. They don’t say so Mooney, they say Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, like they say Youngstown Ursuline,” Sammarone said.
“This is one of our major anchors in our city, and it has been for years, and to lose it would be a tremendous tragedy,” said 6th Ward Councilwoman Janet Tarpley.
Cardinal Mooney employees pay roughly $80,000 a year in city income tax to Youngstown. On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., Fr. DeLucia and the Board of Directors will meet with the non-profit community group ACTION.
But the final decision to stay or go will come from Youngstown Bishop George Murry, who is expected to make a decision by the end of the school year.