As the financially struggling Archdiocese of Philadelphia looks to a private foundation to manage its high schools, it should take a close look at the city public schools' venture into similar waters to avoid the same mistakes.
Beginning Sept. 1, the Faith in the Future Foundation will take over management of 17 Catholic high schools and four special-education schools. It will become the first independently run Catholic system in the country. Grade schools will still be managed by the parishes.
The massive restructuring will starkly change how Catholic schools in the region operate. The move speaks volumes about the willingness of the archdiocese to try a different approach to maintain the viability of Catholic education. The school system has been hard-hit by declining enrollment due to changing demographics as well as budget deficits.
The archdiocese should look for lessons learned by Philadelphia and other public-school systems, which have had mixed results with private management companies. Under a five-year agreement, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput plans to play an active role to ensure the schools maintain their core mission and Catholic identity.