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Cardinal Mooney High School will not move to the suburbs and will remain at its present location on Youngstown’s South Side, according to Youngstown Bishop George Murry.
Murry made the announcement Tuesday to the Cardinal Mooney Board of Directors, which had voted in favor of the move. Murry, who had the final say on the move, said he overrode the board’s decision.
In a statement, the bishop said that he recognizes and appreciates the different perspectives on both sides of the issue, and thanked Mooney president Fr. Gerald DeLucia and the board for the time they have spent studying the pros and cons of a move.
A 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.
“According to its mission statement, Cardinal Mooney High School is committed to provide a quality Catholic education through sanctity, scholarship, and discipline, developing leaders dedicated to social justice and service in the world. Bishop Murry is convinced that the school can more effectively live out its mission by being a leaven to the community and by providing meaningful service and educational opportunities to its students at its present location. The decision to remain at its present site emphasizes that the Church is willing to put its resources behind those values,” a statement from the diocese said.
The statement also said that it will cost less to renovate the current building than to build a new school in the suburbs. Early estimates were $18 million to renovate the present school and $25 million to build a new one in Boardman.
The bishop said Cardinal Mooney will be renovated. In fact, he hopes to expand the campus, possibly leading to what he called the gentrification of the neighborhood.
In a statement from the diocese, Youngstown Catholic Schools Superintendent Nicholas Wolsonovich said the decision does not mean the high school will not change and legitimate concerns raised by many parents must be addressed. He said the building will undergo an extensive renovation, academic programs will be evaluated and upgraded as necessary, and the school will continue to take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the students, faculty, and staff.
Murry said the school’s location, in a rundown and crime-ridden neighborhood, does concern him.
However, he said he and Wolsonovich have met with Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone and Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley to discuss concerns raised during the study about how to improve the areas around the school, and both officials have pledged their commitment to working with the diocese.
Youngstown 6th Ward Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, whose ward includes Cardinal Mooney, said she was thrilled with the decision.
“I’m thanking God and I’m thanking the bishop,” Tarpley said.
Murry said making the decision was tough.
“Cardinal Mooney is an outstanding school. It has succeeded in the past and will continue to succeed into the future with the dedication of the loyal alumni, parents, staff and committed donors,” Murry said in the statement. “We are training young men and women to be of service to the community. My judgement, the best way to live that out is for the school to stay where it is and invite students to come in and a experience a multi-cultural experience of life so they are well prepared to go into the future.”
Cardinal Mooney has been located at Erie Street and Indianola Avenue on Youngstown’s South Side since 1956. Its employees pay roughly $80,000 a year in city income tax to Youngstown.