UPPER PROVIDENCE PA – Construction of the scheduled 2010 successor to St. Pius X Catholic High School, Pottstown, is making progress. In Upper Providence (PA) Township, where the new Pope John Paul II High School is now being built, its cross has been raised, site work is almost complete, the roof is on, and exterior sheathing is up.

Students assist Cardinal Rigali Thursday in the blessing of a cross at the new Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford.

Students assist Cardinal Rigali during April in blessing a cross at the new Pope John Paul II High.

The same can’t be said of what was hoped to be its companion high school in Hilltown PA, 27 miles northeast of Sanatoga. Archdiocesean officials said Wednesday (July 15, 2009) work was being indefinitely postponed on parallel construction there of a proposed $65 million, 63-acre replacement for Lansdale Catholic High School.

Archdiocesean spokeswoman Donna Farrell told The (Doylestown PA) Intelligencer newspaper that a 2012 opening date in Hilltown was no longer viable because of cash flow problems. “There’s no question we’re building this high school,” Farrell told Intelligencer reporter Theresa Hegel. But, she added, “we had always said the opening of Lansdale Catholic was pending funding.”

The recession is keeping the archdiocese from borrowing as much money as it had anticipated for both projects, Farrell claimed. Consequently, it has drawn down more money than expected from a multi-million dollar fund-raising campaign to pay construction bills at Pope John Paul II, limiting money available to Lansdale.

Pope John Paul II, 181 Rittenhouse Road, Royersford PA, is being billed by the archdiocese as “a state-of-the-art high school” that features more than 30 modern classrooms, five science laboratories, three computer laboratories, a library/media resource center, full air-conditioning and a modern security access and surveillance system.

The school also will include a television studio, a fine arts center, a chapel, a 432-seat cafeteria, a 1200-seat auditorium, a 1000-seat main gymnasium, an auxiliary gym and fitness center, six sports fields, and an all-weather-surface running track.

Pope John Paul II also is expected to cost $65 million. Such luxury, however, comes with an increased tuition price tag, archdiocesan Secretary for Catholic Education Dr. Richard McCarron has noted.

Only 18 days ago (June 30, 2009) McCarron, in a letter to parents of students at Pius and Norristown’s Kennedy-Kendrick Catholic High School, announced that annual tuition to attend Pope John Paul II when it opens in September 2010 would be $1,000 higher than whatever figure is stated as the year’s “basic diocesan high school tuition.”

Minimum tuition at Pius during the 2008-2009 school year was $4,860. Those who attended the school without “parish support” paid $5,880.

“This addition to tuition is necessary to pay for debt service on a $48 million bond issue for the school and for the increased operating costs of this facility,” McCarron wrote.

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