New York Archdiocese to Close 24 Schools
By SHARON OTTERMAN
Published: January 22, 2013 Repost on January, 28, 2013
The New York Roman Catholic Archdiocese announced Tuesday that it would close 22 elementary schools and 2 high schools, saying it could no longer afford to spend millions each year supporting schools that were not economically self-sufficient.
Because finances were the most significant factor in the decisions, schools filled with children from poor and immigrant families will be hit hard. Seven elementary schools will be shut in the Bronx, 5 in Manhattan and 10 in counties upstate.
Decisions about two Staten Island schools are being deferred because of Hurricane Sandy, and four schools that had been deemed at risk — St. Gregory the Great in Manhattan, St. Mary School in the Bronx, Sacred Heart in Newburgh and Regina Coeli in Hyde Park — received reprieves, the archdiocese said.
By June, the archdiocese will have about 150 elementary schools, down from over 200 before it began working on a plan three years ago to consolidate students in fewer schools and manage those schools through regional boards, rather than parishes.
As word of the decisions spread on Tuesday, there were tears, as well as some anger, parents and teachers said. Schools were told in November that they could be saved if they came up with a business plan and raised enough money to stay afloat for three years. Some said they believed their efforts had not been taken seriously.
In New City, supporters of St. Augustine School developed a plan that exceeded the fund-raising targets by more than $800,000, said Beth Rooney, the parents’ association president. Yet the school, which performs well academically, is still closing.
The 135-year-old Holy Cross School near Times Square will close, even though alumni and donors came close to reaching the $720,000 in pledges that the archdiocese said would be needed. “We thought we had done everything we could have done,” said the principal, Sister Mary Theresa Dixon.
Fran Davies, a spokeswoman for Timothy McNiff, the archdiocesan superintendent, said that finances were just a portion of the evaluation.
In New Rochelle, students and parents at Blessed Sacrament/St. Gabriel High School were surprised to hear their school was closing. The archdiocese had not placed it on its list in November. Art Brennan, an English teacher, said that some students were crying as they sat for Regents exams. “I don’t think we were given a fair chance to at least try,” he said.
The remaining schools closing:
Manhattan: Annunciation, Holy Name of Jesus, St. James-St. Joseph, St. Jude and St. Agnes Boys High School.
The Bronx: Holy Spirit, Our Lady of Angels, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Jerome, Blessed Sacrament, St. Anthony and St. Mary Star of the Sea.
Upstate: Holy Name of Jesus in Valhalla, Our Lady of Fatima in Scarsdale, St. Casimir in Yonkers, Our Lady of the Assumption in Peekskill, St. Theresa in Briarcliff Manor, St. Joseph in Millbrook, St. Peter in Haverstraw, St. Joseph in Kingston and St. Mary of the Snow in Saugerties.