1/23/13 | 2922 views
Two High Schools, 22 of 26 At-Risk Elementary Schools Will Close in June
The archdiocese has accepted the recommendations to close in June St. Agnes Boys High in Manhattan and Blessed Sacrament/St. Gabriel High in New Rochelle, as well as 22 elementary schools.
Of the 26 at-risk elementary schools announced two months ago, four will remain open, and decisions about two additional schools on Staten Island have been deferred for several weeks to evaluate the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the region.
The four schools originally designated as “at-risk” but will remain open after having subsequently submitted proposals that included viable long-term plans are: St. Gregory the Great in Manhattan; St. Mary School in East and Northeast Bronx; Sacred Heart in Newburgh, Orange County and Regina Coeli in Hyde Park, Dutchess County.
Local boards and ad hoc reconfiguration committees, after in-depth discussions with local pastors, principals, administrators and elected officials, and in consultation with the archdiocese, collectively recommended closing the 22 elementary schools.
The decision to close the at-risk schools follows a months-long review involving local decision-makers in accordance with Pathways to Excellence, the strategic plan for Catholic schools that was published in October 2010 and developed to assure a vibrant future for Catholic education in the archdiocese.
The review included all relevant data, including enrollment, financial, academic and local demographics, to ensure the decisions would result in financially healthy, sustainable schools.
Throughout the review process, pastors and principals of the at-risk schools were invited to meet with members of the local board or reconfiguration committee to discuss the combination of factors that led to the decision to list a school as “at-risk,” and offered an opportunity to submit an alternative proposal to remain viable.
Affected families will be welcomed in neighboring Catholic schools, and every effort will be made to assist those facing financial challenges through the transition.
Student placement counselors will work with regional superintendents to help school families transition into another Catholic school for the 2013-2014 school year. Informational meetings for affected families will be announced in the coming weeks.
The number of students at the elementary schools announced for closure is 4,341, which represents nearly 9 percent of those enrolled in Catholic elementary schools in the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, and Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Sullivan, Orange, Dutchess and Ulster counties.
After a review of current and projected deficits and continuing declines in enrollment, and in consultation with the archdiocese, school leadership determined that St. Agnes Boys High School in Manhattan and Blessed Sacrament/St. Gabriel High School in New Rochelle are not sustainable, and will close. The number of affected secondary school students is 424, out of 24,830 currently enrolled across the archdiocese.
“The archdiocese is not alone in facing financial challenges in education—we share these issues with public, private and other faith-based schools across the country,” Cardinal Dolan said.
“This reconfiguration process will help ensure that our schools will be financially stable, sustainable and, more importantly, open to all students,” he added.
The cardinal reiterated that the archdiocese is dedicated to providing pastoral support and educational guidance to every family personally affected by reconfiguration “to ensure all children attending closing schools will be warmly welcomed into a neighboring Catholic school where they will continue to learn and thrive.”
Dr. Timothy McNiff, archdiocesan superintendent of schools, called for legislative action to add opportunities for children to attend Catholic schools. “As we move forward, we urge Governor Cuomo and the legislature to enact the Education Investment Incentives Act,” he said.
“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,” Dr. McNiff added. “Moreover, the legislation would generate an equal level of additional contributions to public schools.”
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