WHEELING, W.Va. — The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston plans to close Bishop Donahue High School and combine its student with Wheeling Central Catholic after the 2016-2017 academic year.

In the most recent WVSSAC classifications, Bishop Donahue had an enrollment of 107 students with Wheeling Central at 257. The combination of the schools would still keep Wheeling Central’s enrollment in the Class A window. Ravenswood is currently Class A’s largest member with 433 students.

Vincent de Paul Schmidt, superintendent of schools for the diocese, said the decision dates back to 2010, when a Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic Education began evaluating Catholic high schools in the Northern Panhandle,”

“Although at that time there were serious concerns regarding the feasibility of continuing to have two high schools only five and a half miles apart, the diocese wanted to allow every opportunity to see if two schools could continue to exist,” Schmidt said. “It became even clearer over the past several years that they could not.

“The significant resources being devoted to two high schools located in such close proximity to one another, coupled with the fact that the current freshmen class at Bishop Donahue has an enrollment of only 15 students, led the diocese to make this difficult but fiscally and academically responsible decision”

Calling this an “especially disappointing year for enrollment” at the school, Schmidt said declining population in the area and other demographic factors as significant contributing factors.

The diocese claims the combined schools, along with the feeder parochial school students, would be better served by having one unified campus at Central Catholic.

“The unification will strengthen Catholic education in the Northern Panhandle,” Schmidt said. “Our primary concern is always the well-being and education of our students. While this decision was not an easy one to make because of the history and tradition of Bishop Donahue High School, I am confident that it is in the best interests of our students and families.”

In a letter to Bishop Donahue parents and families, Schmidt commented:

Many of you have deep ties to Bishop Donahue High School. Those ties will undoubtedly make this announcement difficult for you.”

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