Two dozen Catholic schools will meet demise
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 1/31/2013, 3:24 p.m.
With the Archdiocese of New York strapped for cash, sacrifices had to be made. Unfortunately, New York's children are paying the price.
Last week, the Archdiocese's local boards and reconfiguration committees announced that they will be forced to close 24 schools (22 elementary schools) around the five boroughs and beyond to make up for a lack of available funding. Some of the schools closing include St. James-St. Joseph and St. Jude in Manhattan, St. Jerome in the south Bronx and Blessed Sacrament in the northeast Bronx. Blessed Sacrament is the same school that current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor attended. She told the New York Times that she was "heartbroken" by the news.
Also on the list of schools on the chopping block are St. Agnes Boys High School in Manhattan and Blessed Sacrament/St. Gabriel High School in New Rochelle. Overall, 4,341 young people (and their parents) now have to find a new place to get an education.
According to the Archdiocese, the decision to close "at-risk" schools was the result of a process that took several months and took into account enrollment, finances, academics and local demographics and the proof of a possibility of financial stability in the future. Much of these guidelines could be traced back to the "Pathways to Excellence" strategic plan from 2010 that was published with the goal of making Catholic school education in the greater New York City area sustainable.
"As we move forward, we urge Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and the Legislature to enact the Education Investment Incentives Act," said Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of New York in a statement. "This initiative, similar to those already enacted into law in 11 other states, would spur additional corporate and individual donations into education, generating $150 million in additional scholarships for families to enroll their children in Catholic and other religious and independent schools. Moreover, the legislation would generate an equal level of additional contributions to public schools."
Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan said that the reconfiguration process will "help ensure that our schools will be financially stable, sustainable and, more importantly, open to all students."
But no matter the process, it's not making people happy. New York state Sen. Jose Serrano sent this statement to the AmNews after learning of St. Jerome's closing. "I am deeply saddened and disappointed to learn of the Archdiocese's decision to continue with the closing of the St. Jerome school," said Serrano. "It was my hope that the Archdiocese would provide St. Jerome with a viable plan to allow the school to remain open.
"Not only is the school an iconic presence for residents of the south Bronx, but it has a long history of providing an outstanding education to the youth of our community, many of whom are new immigrants. I strongly urge the Archdiocese to reconsider this troublesome decision so that children who attend St. Jerome may continue to receive the quality education that they deserve."