Archdiocese Alters Course on Schools
A big strategic shift by the NY Archdiocese – let's hope it's successful, as Catholic schools are a critical element of much-needed school choice especially in poor neighborhoods:
After closing dozens of schools last year, the Archdiocese of New York now is embarking on the most ambitious phase of a multipronged plan to reshape its Catholic education system.
In September, three boards will be given broad authority to determine policy for all schools in their regions, shifting control of elementary schools away from parishes and the central superintendent's office.
If the experiment works, the archdiocese—which stretches north from the city into Dutchess and Ulster counties and west into Sullivan County—will create a total of 10 regional boards that officials say will save on costs and improve efficiency. When combined with new revenue sources, the plan is intended to shore up the system's faltering finances.
"It's uncharted waters for us," said the Rev. Thomas Madden, who will head the Rockland County board. "We're going to learn as we do it. In a way, it's exhilarating."
New York has not been immune to the struggles of Catholic schools across the country. Last year, the archdiocese closed 27 elementary schools, citing shrinking student bodies: Since 2006, enrollment has plunged by 14,550 students, officials said.
"We didn't close academically failing schools. We closed schools because we haven't figured out a model to keep them financially viable," said Dr. Timothy McNiff, who was appointed superintendent of schools for the archdiocese four years ago.
- NY SCHOOLS
- Updated March 13, 2012, 10:06 p.m. ET