Diocese to close St. Mary’s campus

The aging St. Mary’s campus of Altoona Central Catholic School, 1400 Fourth Ave., will close at the end of this academic year.

“It will soon be unable to serve the needs of ACCS,” the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese stated in a press release on Friday.

Altoona Central Catholic School currently operates two campuses.

The St. Therese campus of ACCS will remain in operation. That building, at 424 Wopsononock Ave., serves elementary grades.

ACCS students entering grade 5 next year will be able to remain at the St. Therese campus.

The 84 students entering grades 6-8 will have the opportunity to attend class at St. Rose of Lima School, 5519 Sixth Ave. But many of them may choose to attend other schools in the diocese.

Diocese spokesman Tony DeGol said the St. Rose of Lima pastor reached out to the ACCS pastor to facilitate a collaboration between the schools. The diocese announced a new organizational structure of schools in late January with the aim of fostering collaboration among them.

DeGol said St. Rose of Lima’s response to ACCS’ need is the type of collaboration that the diocese hopes to achieve.

“Every case is different. But things like this are going to have to continue,” he said.

The future of the antiquated building is in the hands of St. Mary’s parishioners.

“I ensured parishioners that no decision will be made until they were consulted,” Monsignor and St. Mary’s Pastor Timothy Stein said.

Closing the school building is not related to enrollment, as the student population in the diocese increased from last year, DeGol said.

To accommodate an influx of students at St. Rose of Lima School and the St. Therese site of ACCS, portable classrooms may be utilized at both locations next year. Faculty will also be added at both locations to meet the needs of the increased enrollment, a press release stated.

The pastors of both schools have also agreed on a uniform schedule of tuition that will accommodate families with children in both schools simultaneously.

“Our students deserve the most modern learning environment possible, and I know that the St. Therese campus of ACCS and St. Rose of Lima School will provide that,” Bishop Mark Bartchak said. “I am grateful to both pastors for their vision and leadership in finding a solution that ensures my commitment to available, accessible and affordable Catholic education for families in Altoona-Johnstown.”