By Denise Dick
Cardinal Mooney High School won’t be moving to the suburbs after a fundraising campaign fell short of its goal.
Bishop George V. Murry of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown said at a news conference Tuesday that the school’s board of directors raised about $14 million toward its $23 million preliminary goal. Total cost of the new school in Mahoning County’s southern tier would be $34.5 million.
The bishop suspended the campaign and asked the directors and diocese Catholic schools office to begin modifying the school’s strategic plan and consider options.
“I want the board to look at all possible options,” the bishop said.
When diocesan officials announced they were exploring the possibility of moving Cardinal Mooney to the suburbs, they talked about the fact that the 50-plus-year-old school on the city’s South Side needs renovations and the idea that a move would draw more students.
Nick Wolsonovich, schools superintendent, said there have been no safety issues at the school.
The Rev. Gerald DeLucia, president of Cardinal Mooney, said the city recently has demolished two vacant homes near the school, improving the neighborhood.
“I can’t say enough about Youngstown’s concern, care and watchfulness for Cardinal Mooney,” he said.
The school’s roof and windows need replacing, but it will be up to the board to recommend what renovations to be made and the precise cost.
Father DeLucia said the asbestos discovered in the building last year has been abated and encapsulated.
In a news release, Ed Reese, chairman of Mooney’s board, noted the school’s role.
“Mooney has a great history and tradition,” Reese said. “As a consequence, we will continue to do everything possible to ensure a strong future for Cardinal Mooney.”
Bishop Murry said some people in the community have recommended merging Mooney and Ursuline high schools, but he believes that’s premature.
The Mooney board had been focused on building a new school. Because that isn’t going to happen, “now the whole Mooney family needs to be able to be involved in” deciding what the options are for the school, he said.
The plan modification will involve donors, alumni, parents, faculty, pastors and students.
The kindergarten through eighth grade enrollment in diocese schools is shrinking and Mooney has also seen a decline, dropping from 640 six years ago to 495 this school year. Ursuline’s enrollment mostly has held steady with 445 students six years ago and 438 students this year.
The fact that Mooney is staying put is welcome news to Mayor John A. McNally.
“I think there are well-intentioned people who support Mooney no matter where it’s located,” he said, adding that he’s happy the school will stay on the South Side.
“We’re still paying attention to what’s happening in that neighborhood,” he said. “We want to keep the teachers, students and administrators happy.”