Four Bronx Catholic schools set to close

Four Bronx Catholic schools set to close|Four Bronx Catholic schools set to close
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein|Community News Group / Steven Goodstein

Four more of the borough’s Catholic schools are set to close at the end of the school year.

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of New York announced that the schools will cease operations at the end of the current academic school year.

The schools slated to close at the end of the academic year are St. Peter & Paul’s School in Morrisania, St. Mary School in Williamsbridge, Visitation School in Kingsbridge and St. Ann School in Norwood.

Beginning in September 2017, St. Peter & Paul’s will transition from a K-8 to a universal pre-k school, which follows a early childhood state initiative which provides education to four-year old children at no cost.

The Archdiocese believes that this will meet the increasing community demands for early childhood education.

However, the closings will leave hundreds of students scrambling for a decent school to attend in fall 2017 and numerous full-time and part-time teachers without a job.

“These teachers don’t only educate their students – they also offer support to students who now face challenges in their future school years, which includes fears that come with the uncertainty of making friends in their new schools,” said Julia Pignataro, president of the Federation of Catholic Teachers. “Teachers are also facing an uncertain future.”

Pignataro, along with the Federation of Catholic Teachers, claims that this situation could have been easily avoided, had the Archdiocese followed its promised plan of action, which included the ‘Pathways to Excellence’ initiative in 2010, which was created to ensure the longevity, quality and strength of the Archdiocese’s Catholic schools. Under that initiative, parents and teachers were promised that increased funds would be available for tuition assistance in the near future.

“We understand these are challenging times for many families – but we will work with all students who are seeking to continue their Catholic education in this school system next year,” said Dr. Timothy McNiff, school superintendent of the Archdiocese. “These changes are difficult but necessary to ensure our Catholic schools are stronger than ever.”

According to the Archdiocese of New York, all effected students will be guaranteed a seat at a Catholic school within their school system.

Following this school year, students from St. Mary, Visitation and St. Ann will have the option to transfer to either St. Brendan School in Norwood, St. John’s School in Kingsbridge, Our Lady of Grace School in Williamsbridge or any other neighboring Catholic schools.

The Archdiocese also said that St. Mary, Visitation and St. Ann schools are still owned by their respective parishes, and it is up to each parish to decide if they would like to lease or sell their school facility and property in the future. No announcements regarding sales or leases have been announced, as of press time.

St. Gregory the Great in Manhattan, as well as St. Peter’s Regional in Sullivan County, will also close by the end of the 2016-17 school year, as announced by the Archdiocese of New York earlier this month.

Along with these six schools, the Archdiocese has closed 55 Catholic schools since 2011 – 30 schools in 2011 and an additional 25 schools in 2013. Out of those 55 schools, 13 schools operated in the Bronx.

St. Mary School, one of the four Catholic school in the borough slated to close.
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein