St. Rose Academy to be Auctioned

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Newswatch 16 has learned that Saint Rose Academy in Mayfield is being put on the auction block in July.

Saint Rose is the private school that was formed after the Catholic Diocese of Scranton closed Sacred Heart High School in Carbondale. Students, parents and teachers are scheduled to return to class at St. Rose in late August, but their school building in Mayfield is scheduled to be auctioned at a sheriff's sale on July 20.

Alyssa Wahlers has been a student at St. Rose for four years.

"She's grown tremendously as a person," says her mother, Maria. "She's made a lot of friends, she's excelled in her studies. This is like her family."

St. Rose administrators have scheduled a parents' meeting for Wednesday to talk about the school's future and crippling debt. It's not what parents had in mind when they bought the Lackawanna Heritage Valley building to house the academy in 2005.

That's the year that the Diocese of Scranton closed Sacred Heart High School in Carbondale after graduation. Many parents in the area wanted to continue Catholic education without having to send children to Scranton.

From the beginning, St. Rose struggled with numbers: not enough students to fill the classrooms and lecture halls. Four years ago, administrators hoped St. Rose would eventually grow to 200 students. Instead, enrollment remained flat at about 70.

Court filings show the academy with a debt from its mortgage interest and late fees of almost $5 million. The school has made just one mortgage payment since September 2008.

Maria Wahlers now wonders where she'll send her daughter in the fall.

"We're going forward," she tells Newswatch 16. "Hopefully, it's going to be here, but we don't know. They could tell us in August, 'You know what? It's not going to happen.' So then I have to scramble and find somewhere else for her to go."

Two sources within the school administration tell Newswatch 16 they intend to keep St. Rose Academy open. Options include restructuring the loan to keep the building, renting space from whoever buys this building at public auction, or looking for a new home.