Mooney could still opt to move

YOUNGSTOWN – The fate of Cardinal Mooney High School may not be set in stone.

The cost of asbestos removal necessary for renovations has Bishop George Murry taking a second look at an option to build a new school in the suburbs.

On June 4, the bishop rejected a plan to build a new school at an estimated cost of $25 million in favor of renovating the Erie Street campus for an estimated $18 million.

Since then, the Cardinal Mooney Board of Directors presented new information to Murry about the costs of asbestos removal and remediation, which significantly increases costs and work. By how much was not announced.

The board previously voted to move until Murry overruled the plan.

In a news release Wednesday from the Diocese of Youngstown, Murry said he is appointing an independent committee with expertise in Catholic school mission, education, finance and building construction, as well as a parent and a pastor, to review all information regarding the renovation of the school. He wants their report by July 31.

He said if the committee recommends to renovate, and he reaffirms his earlier decision, he will direct the the president and board to begin a capital campaign to raise money.

If the committee recommends moving, and he approves, he will direct the school leaders to conduct a financial feasibility study to determine whether there are sufficient resources to build a new school.

The entire process will require approximately two months.

The school previously voted to move out of the city, citing student safety issues and an independent study that concluded the school would sustain better enrollment for a longer period in the suburbs.

Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said Murry’s veto was based in keeping with the school’s mission to serve the community and act as ”leaven.”

”The decision to remain at its present site emphasizes that the church is willing to put its resources behind those values,” a statement from the diocese said at the time.

Cardinal Mooney has been at Erie Street and Indianola Avenue on Youngstown’s South Side since 1956.

Wolsonovich said when you begin looking at what needs to be done for renovations and tearing a building apart, you begin to see new things and the extent of what else needs to be done, including with the asbestos.

Barring any new developments, the school is still planning to begin the next school year at its present location.