YOUNGSTOWN - Moving Cardinal Mooney High School out of Youngstown into the suburbs received tentative approval Tuesday night from Bishop George Murry of the Youngstown Diocese.
After initially blocking the move, Murry said he would agree to the relocation to a suitable location in the southern tier of Mahoning County if the results of the financial feasibility study indicate that there is sufficient financial support for a building and for an endowment fund for scholarships for financially needy students.
In a news release from the Diocese on Tuesday, Murry indicated the decision was based on the recommendation of a five-member committee, which he established to review all of the information concerning Cardinal Mooney - both old information and new.
As part of this decision, Murry consulted with the executive committees of both Ursuline High School and Cardinal Mooney High School boards of directors about the possibility of merging the two schools. Neither school boards nor the five-member committee thought merger a viable option.
Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said the Rev. Gerald DeLucia, president of Cardinal Mooney High School, and its board of directors are encouraged by the bishop's decision and will begin moving ahead enthusiastically to
carry out his directives.
''The president and board will develop an overall plan for the new building, including a funding plan and an endowment fund,'' Wolsonovich said.
Multiple attempts by the Tribune Chronicle to reach DeLucia or other Cardinal Mooney spokesmen Tuesday for comments and their next steps were unsuccessful.
In June, Murry overruled a vote by the Mooney Board of Directors to build a new school at an estimated cost of $25 million instead of renovating the Erie Street campus for an estimated $18 million.
The wanted 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. Murry said then it was more to keeping to the schools mission to stay in Youngstown and act as ''leaven'' to the community.
After the Mooney directors called Murry's attention to the cost of asbestos removal and remediation necessary for renovations, which would significantly increase estimated costs, Murry formed an independent committee to explore options, including taking a second look at building a school in the suburbs.
The committee included individuals 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 school building.
The review and report was originally to have been completed by July 31 but Wolsonovich said the process is taking a little longer to complete.
In previous statements from the Diocese, Murry had said if the committee recommends to renovate, he will direct the president and board to begin a capital campaign to raise money.
If the committee recommends moving, and Murry 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.
Cardinal Mooney has been located at the intersection of Erie Street and Indianola Avenue on Youngstown's South Side since 1956.