A handful of Bronx parochial schools facing closure are hoping for a post-Christmas miracle.
Seven local elementary schools, told by the Archdiocese of New York that they are “at-risk” for closure in 2013, are struggling to find a way to survive.
As part of the 2010 Pathways to Excellence plan for Catholic schools, local boards and committees have completed their preliminary evaluations of the current state and long-term sustainability of elementary schools in their areas, including enrollment, financial, academic and local demographics .
Now, parents are taking matters into their own hands, setting up rallies and fund raisers to try to keep the schools open.
The schools are Holy Spirit elementary school in Morris Heights, Our Lady of Angels school in Kingsbridge, Our Lady of Mercy school in Fordham, St. Jerome school in Mott Haven, St. Anthony’s School in Wakefield, St. Mary’s Elementary School in Williamsbridge, and St. Mary Star of the Sea school on City Island.
Desiree White-Foster, a parent of two children attending St. Mary of the Sea school on City Island, said she was unaware her children’s school was at risk for closure until she saw it on the news in mid-November.
“And then we got a little blurb from the principal saying that our school is in jeopardy and we’re going to have further meetings about it. Then we didn’t hear anything until this week,” said a frustrated Foster. “This was the first time that we received some update on the matter. Not to mention there is a rumor the principal has been fired. The Archdiocese has said nothing to the parents.”
She said school officials have told parents they are running at a $1.2 million deficit.
“As a school, we need to come up with $350,000 in fundraising money by the new year so that we can stay open,” she said. “It’s very disconcerting. How are we going to raise $350,000?”
Blessed Sacrament school in Soundview, which educated U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, must come up with a plan to raise $1.2 million over the next three years.
Archdiocese school officials said the schools must present realistic financial plans by January.
Blessed Sacrament has already started plans to raise the money.
Parents and supporters rallied outside the archdiocese in Manhattan on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
The school has also set up an emergency PayPal account to make donating easier.
“It’s a lot of money for a school like that to raise. It’s going to be tough,” said school graduate Paul LaRosa, a former Daily News reporter who is now a producer at CBS News.
LaRosa said he was shocked that they would want to close down a school that is helping poor youth of the Bronx.
“Everyone talks about how important education is and here we have archdiocese who helps poor people closing down a school that helps those people.”
St. Jerome school also held a rally to raise support for their school on Wednesday, December 12.
The school must come up with a financial plan to raise $1 million over the next few years.
Jorge De La Cruz, whose son attends Our Lady of Angels in Kingsbridge, called archdiocese’ deadline to raise the money unrealistic.
“We have to come up with $900,000 by next month,” he said. “We had our first meeting about possible closure on December 11, and we are in the beginning stages of making a plan, but the archdiocese is not giving us enough time. If the school closes, where are the kids going to go?”
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394