The move of Cardinal Mooney High School to southern Mahoning County is still a possibility.
In a news release late Tuesday, Bishop George V. Murry of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown said he would agree to move Mooney to a “suitable location in the southern tier of Mahoning County if the results of the financial feasibility study indicate there is sufficient financial support for a new school building and for an endowment fund for scholarships for financially needy students.”
The five-member committee, which the bishop established to review all the information concerning Cardinal Mooney, made the recommendation late last week, said Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools.
Wolsonovich said new information on the estimated cost of removing and abating asbestos in the school building on Erie Street on the city’s South Side was among factors in the bishop’s decision.
That figure could be in the millions, he said. The estimated cost of renovation, about $15 million, would increase because of the asbestos situation.
But Wolsonovich emphasized that other factors, in addition to the asbestos issue, played a part in the recommendation. He said the goal is to make available a Catholic education to the greatest number of Catholic families and non-Catholics.
Wolsonovich said the feasibility study would gauge financial support for the estimated $25 million it would take for a new school building and property acquisition.
He continued that Cardinal Mooney’s endowment fund, which provides money for scholarships, is about $1.5 million. The bishop would like to see $5 million in the endowment fund to provide scholarships for economically disadvantaged students.
The money in the endowment fund would be considered as part of the financial feasibility study.
As part of this decision, the bishop consulted with the executive committee of Ursuline High School and Cardinal Mooney board of directors about the possibility of a merger of the two schools.
Both groups did not think a merger was a viable option. The bishop’s five-member review committee also did not support a merger of the two schools.
Wolsonovich said the Rev. Gerald DeLucia, president of Cardinal Mooney, and its board of directors will develop an overall plan for the new building, including a funding plan and an endowment fund.
Last year, Mooney officials began exploring whether to renovate the school building or construct a new one in southern Mahoning County.
Initial reports pegged the new construction at $25 million with the renovation at $18 million, but now the asbestos removal or abatement is increasing that figure. Mooney’s board of directors recommended moving.