By Denise Dick
Like the owner of an older home, Cardinal Mooney High School is faced with a choice: to upgrade or to build a new one someplace else.
Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Office of Catholic Schools, said a group of Mooney alumni approached him and Bishop George V. Murry about the possibility of building a new Mooney in the southern part of Mahoning County.
That’s where the population is moving, he said.
The Erie Street school on the city’s South Side was built in 1956 and needs updating.
It needs a new roof, windows and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, the Rev. Gerald DeLucia, Mooney president, said.
“What we call the Mooney Family will have to decide to fix up the building or to build,” Father DeLucia said.
Estimated cost to upgrade is $18 million, which includes the addition of an arts center and a wellness center.
The cost of a new building runs between $24 million and $25 million. That price doesn’t include property that the school hopes will be donated.
But Father DeLucia said more than money will be considered in making the decision.
Catholic School Management Inc. of Madison, Conn., is conducting a feasibility study comparing the two options.
“They’ll interview about 60 individuals — a sampling or a cross-section of alumni and parents of students,” he said.
Company representatives will ask those individuals their views on moving versus upgrading. The students also will gauge the financial support for either option.
Bishop Murry ultimately will make the decision.
The school’s president said a move isn’t being considered because of a crime problem. That hasn’t been an issue, he said.
If the school moves, though, Father DeLucia says it will maintain its commitment to the city and serving those residents who want to send their children to Mooney. Any site would have to be easily accessible, he said.
“We have a lot of young people from the city,” he said. “We can’t abandon the city of Youngstown. We’re part of Youngstown life, and Youngstown is part of our life. We’re not in any way considering abandoning the present population.”
About a third of the school’s 580 students live in the city, with the majority coming from the suburbs including some from Columbiana County, the priest said.
“We value the diversity we have here,” he said. “The kids like the diversity — students from the city and the suburbs, of different races and religions.”