PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More changes are coming for some local Cataholic schools

The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that Saint Anne, Saint Bernard, Our Lady of Grace and Saint Thomas More schools will merge their academic programs in the fall.

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The schools will consolidate into two K–8 campuses at Saint Bernard and Saint Thomas Moore schools.

Saint Maria Goretti School and East Catholic School will also close following this school year.

“Other schools have already collapsed into this one, and we thought that would continue. It’s just unbelievable right now,” East Catholic parent Michael Hill said.

The diocese says the changes are necessary.

A study and formal recommendation from the South Regional Elementary Schoool Advisory Board showed a major drop in enrollment and a debt of about $250,000 per year.

The diocese said enrollment has fallen to 131 students at Saint Maria Goretti, compared to 172 students in 2016-17.

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Enrollment also fell at East Catholic from 255 students in 2016-17 to 172 students this year.

Some people at Saint Maria Goretti are pleading for the diocese to reconsider.

“We are the only one that kids are filtering in from all the triangles around us to keep families in these neighborhoods. They’re going to move out,” parent Dana Murphy said.

But it’s not just families dealing with the news.

Teachers and staff are now questioning what will happen to their jobs.

“If we retain these kids, we hopefully can retain a lot of the teachers as well,” Anna Torrance of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The diocese said this method was successful previously in the North Hills.

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In a statement, Bishop David Zubik said:

“As hard as it is to lose a beloved school … these steps will help Catholic education remain affordable, accessible and sustainable for a new generation.”