DePaul Catholic School, Independence Mission Schools buy Germantown buildings

DePaul Catholic School in Germantown and the Independence Mission Schools network have bought the former St. Francis of Assisi Church, school, and rectory to provide more space for DePaul's growing enrollment.

"We are thrilled to have the support of the Independence Mission Schools network in purchasing" the property at Greene and Logan Streets from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, principal Katie Wardlow said in an announcement Wednesday. "Our student body has nearly doubled in size in the past four years, and the purchase will allow us to provide more programs to our growing classes."

She said that the purchase price of just over $200,000 reflects the parish's commitment to Catholic education in the neighborhood and DePaul's plans to begin extensive renovations.

The St. Francis church closed in 2012 because of declining membership. Its elementary school had been renamed the DePaul School in 2004 and served students from several nearby parishes, including St. Vincent dePaul.

Since 2013, the school has been part of the network of Independence Mission Schools, which manages 15 inner-city Catholic schools and provides additional financial aid for families.

As a mission school, DePaul had been renting its building from the archdiocese for a nominal fee.

Wardlow said that since DePaul joined the network and introduced a program that blends small group lessons with computer-based individual instruction, enrollment has grown from 270 students from prekindergarten to eighth grade to more than 400.

She said the Rev. Sylvester Peterka, the pastor at St. Vincent, and the parish council there helped with the negotiations with the archdiocese.

Wardlow said that the school has a lot of ideas for using the additional space, and will be working with architects and discussing plans with the community.

martha.woodall@phillynews.com215-854-2789@marwooda

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