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More closures on the way for Bronx catholic schools

Bronx Times
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More Bronx Catholic schools will be on the chopping blocks at the end of this coming school year.

After a painful first round of closings to narrow a widening financial shortfall, the Archdiocese of New York will initiate a second round at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, with school viability being determined this fall.

Schools slated for closure will be notified in early 2013, according to Archdiocese school officials.

The impending closures come as Archdiocese school officials initiate a new pilot program that will regionalize Bronx elementary schools in the northwest and south Bronx under one governing body this school year, with a new east/northeast Bronx region next year.

Each region will have a board of trustees dealing with overall administration and finances for all schools there.

The idea is to put the borough’s Catholic elementary schools on sound financial footing and change the governance from parish-based to being run by a board of trustees, Archdiocese Schools Superintendent Timothy McNiff said in a candid interview.

The pilot region will be a separate 501(c)3 organization with a 17-member board, led by its chairman, Fr. Joseph Franco of Sacred Heart Parish at 1253 Shakespeare Avenue.

To ensure the regional plan starts out on firm financial footing, further school closings will have to occur, said McNiff.

“It is my firm opinion that after the painful exercise we would have stopped our deficits,” he said.

The new region will pool school resources and be financed by a new church tax for all parishes, rental revenues from previously closed school buildings, and money set aside from Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s own budget, he said.

Those new revenues should provide over $20 million, much of it for scholarships to help meet tuition needs, he said, especially for the 64% of students at or below the poverty line.

“It is getting harder for families to find discretionary money for this,” said McNiff.

Schools that manage to remain financially independent, he added, may continue to be run on the parish level.

The issue of deferred maintenance on school buildings is a pressing matter, he added.

“Because so much of our money has had to go into operations, it is hard to project for capital,” said Franco.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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