Belt tightening for Catholic schools

The new mantra for Bronx Catholic schools is simple–keep them opened.

The marching orders come straight from the Archdiocese of New York, which closed seven failing borough elementary schools this year from lack of finances and enrollment. This year, top clergy brass have crafted a game plan to hopefully keep its network of parochial schools permanently open.

“This year we had the resources necessary to sustain our schools come September,” said Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese. “It’s been a long time since we were able to say that.”

One approach is the Pathways to Excellence pilot program that divides Bronx parochial schools into Northwest/South Bronx and Northeast/East Bronx geographic regions.

Heavily backed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the model turns “mom and pop” schools into a network.

Traditional parish-based schools still exist, with a handful still in the Bronx, though less favored.

Monies will be funneled into one pot, re-allocated, including for struggling parish schools. More funds will go to scholarships and parish education programs.

Pathways to Excellence will be funded through a “regional tax,” where all diocesan schools will contribute to the formula’s fund. A 6% tuition hike will also keep these schools afloat.

As the Archdiocese remodels management, it’s also outsourcing.

It recently signed an agreement with the nonprofit Partnership for Inner-City Education to run three south Bronx schools–St. Athansius, Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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