D.C. Parochial Schools May Convert To Charters

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has announced a proposal to turn eight of its parochial schools into secular charter schools funded by the local government.

In September, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl approached Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty with a plan to turn over parochial schools that are struggling financially. All are inner-city schools that Wuerl has determined to be “no longer financially viable.”

Wuerl’s recommendation would keep the schools housed within buildings owned by the church, and the city would pay rent for facilities along with providing public operating funds. Archdiocesan officials would select the secular entity to run the charter schools.

The Washington Post reported that converting religious schools to public ones is fraught with difficulty. A Chicago public schools official told the newspaper that the process is possible, but there are “church-state” issues that arise.