Catholic Schools Closing due to Persistant Deficits
It is an absolute tragedy that good Catholic schools are closing – often while far worse public schools, which cost two to four TIMES as much per student, continue miseducating students year after year, decade after decade…
But now, Holy Cross is one of 28 elementary schools being considered for closing this year by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. The proposed shutdowns are the latest in a wave that has swept away Catholic elementary schools in the Northeast and Midwest in recent decades.
In the New York Archdiocese, which extends from Staten Island north almost to Albany, fewer than 75,000 students now attend 245 Catholic elementary and high schools, down from 212,000 students in 414 schools in the early 1960s.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, closed 26 elementary schools in 2011, but he has said that he hopes this latest round of closings will be the last of such broad scope.
The archdiocese is in the process of regionalizing elementary school management and financing, and is hoping that new revenue sources, including an archdiocesan tax levied on each parish to support all schools in its local region, will help reduce the persistent operational deficits that it says are forcing the closings.
Over the last few months, committees of clergy and lay people have examined the finances of individual schools and determined that some of those running substantial annual budget deficits would have to close, regardless of their academic performance, said Timothy McNiff, the archdiocesan superintendent of schools. Schools filled with students from poor or immigrant families, like Holy Cross, are being hit the hardest, because they often have the most limited financial resources.
“This is the most unfortunate thing about what we have to do,” Dr. McNiff said. “We are closing schools that are not failing academically, that are not failing in terms of helping the child with their faith journey and that provide safe harbors for kids.”
However, he said, “if we do not do this, it is a death by a thousand cuts — the deficits will consume us.”