For more than a year, the Archdiocese of New York has been engaged in a strategic planning process, Pathways to Excellence, designed to ensure the long-term success of its Catholic schools. An initial phase of this strategic planning process was the creation of a reconfiguration committee – consisting of pastors, principals, parents, donors, and professional educators – that studied the long-term viability of the Catholic schools in the archdiocese. This past November, the archdiocese announced a list of 32 schools that the committee considered to be “at-risk” of losing the significant financial subsidies that they received from the archdiocese. Each of the schools was given an opportunity to present a proposal for its long-term sustainability. The proposals were carefully considered and evaluated.
Having had the opportunity for this further review, the reconfiguration committee has made its final recommendations as to which Catholic schools should no longer receive financial subsidies from the archdiocese. The committee’s recommendations were presented to Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan last week, and he has accepted and approved them. Of the 32 schools under review, four schools will remain open and a decision about one other school has been deferred for several weeks so that additional information can be gathered and analyzed by the committee. The remaining 27 schools will lose their archdiocesan subsidies, and, as a result, will close at the end of the current academic year and not be reopened by their parishes in September 2011. The recommendations of the committee effectively reduce the financial deficit by approximately $10 million. An archdiocesan subsidy of approximately $13 million will continue to support Catholic schools.
After the committee’s extensive research and thoughtful deliberations were presented to Archbishop Dolan, he consulted with the pastors of the at-risk schools, regarding the recommendations of the reconfiguration committee. Because there are opportunities for students to receive a ready welcome and to enroll at near-by Catholic schools, student placement counselors will be assigned by district to assist all families affected by school closures, and to help transition students into another Catholic school. Those families facing financial hardship because of a change in school will be able to apply for assistance, and these requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Informational meetings for affected families will be announced in the coming weeks.
The following schools will close in June 2011, at the end of the current academic year:
Manhattan Schools Closing:
Saint Joseph of the Holy Family
Our Lady of Sorrows
Bronx Schools Closing:
Saint John Vianney
Saint Martin of Tours
Saint Anthony-Saint Frances
Saint Pius V Girls High School
Staten Island Schools Closing:
Saint Margaret Mary
Westchester/Putnam Schools Closing:
Saint Ann, Ossining
Saint Anthony of Padua, West Harrison
Christ the King, Yonkers
Saint Bartholomew, Yonkers
Saint Mary, Yonkers
Saint Joseph, Croton Falls
Saint John the Evangelist, Mahopac
Sacred Heart School for the Arts, Mount Vernon
Saints Peter and Paul, Mount Vernon
Upper Counties (Dutchess, Ulster, Rockland, Sullivan, Orange) Schools Closing:
Sacred Heart, Highland Falls (Orange County)
Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Cornwall-on-Hudson (Orange County)
Saint Joseph, New Windsor (Orange County)
Saint Augustine, Highland (Ulster County)
Saint Joseph, Middletown (Orange County)
The number of students at these elementary schools is 3,652, which represents 7 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. These schools have seen a decline in enrollment of 71 percent over the last five years. The number of affected secondary school students is 110, out of 26,501 currently enrolled across the archdiocese.
The committee has acknowledged that four schools originally designated as “at-risk” have created viable long-term plans so that they no longer require archdiocesan subsidies, and will remain open. They are:
Good Shepherd, Manhattan
Holy Name of Jesus, Valhalla (Westchester County)
Saint Joseph, Kingston (Ulster County)
Saint Peter’s, Poughkeepsie (Dutchess County)
The committee has determined that several additional weeks of review and analysis are required before a final recommendation can be made about Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Manhattan. This decision will, however, be made with ample time for parents to register their child(ren) for September 2011.
“As we develop a comprehensive regional strategy to meet the needs of Catholic school families, we are now required to allocate our resources to support schools that have healthy enrollments, and can sustain themselves over time,” said Dr. Timothy J. McNiff, Superintendent of Schools. “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. A top priority for the archdiocese will be providing pastoral support and educational guidance to every family personally affected by the process so that all the children now in a school to be closed can be warmly welcomed into a neighboring Catholic school.”
Dr. McNiff added, “These difficult decisions will ensure the sustainability of our Catholic schools for future generations and provide us with opportunities that will ultimately increase the number of students who can benefit from a faith-based, quality education. We have entered into a new era, with new challenges and opportunities for our schools, and we are being proactive in preserving and developing a system of fully enrolled, vibrant schools, that meet the needs of the local community.”
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan stated “The reconfiguration committee has done its job well, with compassion for school families in transition and with concern for the future of Catholic education, which is at the heart and soul of this process. We can all be proud of the opportunities our Catholic schools have provided to so many children, rich or poor. Thanks to the parishes that now, painfully, must close their schools, for their understanding and commitment to Catholic education. Moving forward, we encourage local communities to join us as we build a bold future for Catholic schools for the twenty-first century.”
Click here to read the full press release in Spanish.