Sometimes, when all the stars are aligned, a nonprofit manages to close. Northwest Catholic High School's stars were aligned.
The numbers tell it all. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "this year, the school enrolled 551 students. At its peak, North was bursting at the seams with more than 4,000 students in the early 1950s." Alumni said they just needed more time to "turn (the school) into a private Catholic academy in the fall".
Would time really have made a difference? The Archdiocese didn't think time would make much of a difference. After-all, the school has more than 50 years of history and that hasn't changed enrollment figures. And you just can't operate a school built for 4000 with only 14% of the students.
I applaud the Archdiocese for good governance. They appraised the situation, saw what they couldn't change, and decided to cut the cord. All nonprofit boards have a responsibility to ask these questions regularly, particularly at strategic planning time. It is good governance to see the writing on the wall, no revenue and little demand, and take action. The Archdiocese has taken the right step.
But it's also good governance to appraise "what next" now that the hardest decisions have been made. According to the Inquirer, there's a bunch of Alumni out there willing to be supportive of Catholic Education. They couldn't resurrect Northwest but maybe there is indeed a partnership and future awaiting both the Archdiocese and alumni. This too would be good governance.