Facing rising costs and falling enrollments, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore announced it would close 13 of its 64 schools at the end of the academic year. Parents reacted with anguish and anger as word spread that 12 K-8 schools and one high school, Cardinal Gibbons in the Morrell Park neighborhood of West Baltimore, would be shut down in June. All were in Baltimore or Baltimore County. "This is a major blow," Ted Ewachiw said at Sacred Heart of Mary School in East Baltimore, where he picked up his two children after school in March. "It's terrible. I don't know what I'm going to do now. I don't want to send them to public" school. The reorganization displaced 2,152 students and 325 teachers, staff and administrators. The displaced students, who make up nearly 10 percent of the 22,700 in the system, were guaranteed a spot in a parochial school no more than five miles from their current school, but it wasn't clear then how many employees would lose their jobs. "I wish there were a painless way to do this," Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, spiritual leader of the area's half-million Catholics, said in an interview that week. "It's going to be quite painful. It's going to have a ripple effect beyond what we can predict."
Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis