catholic school

The schools have struggled for years with declining enrollment.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on Tuesday proposed closing 31 elementary schools and a high school next year in what church officials said was the largest school system reorganization in its history.


The schools proposed for shuttering — described by the Archdiocese as “at risk,” pending last-minute appeals to school officials and outside donors — stretch from New York City to several counties to the north.

All have struggled for years with declining enrollment and increasing dependence on the Archdiocese for financial support, said the archdiocesan schools superintendent, Timothy J. McNiff.

“We need to allocate our resources where they can do the most good, and support schools that can sustain themselves over time,” Dr. McNiff added.

For years, archdiocesan officials dealt with falling student rolls and population shifts in piecemeal fashion, before unveiling a plan last month called “Pathways to Excellence,” which will eventually spread the burden of financially supporting parochial schools to the Archdiocese at large. The plan represents a major reordering of a centuries-old tradition in which the schools have been largely paid for by members of the parish in which they are located, with subsidies from the Archdiocese.

The final decision on school closings will be made in January, to give parents time to place their children in other schools by the beginning of the next school year, said the archdiocesan spokesman, Joseph Zwilling. All students will be guaranteed a spot in another Catholic school in the Archdiocese, he said.

Reflecting a sharp decline of enrollments in poor neighborhoods, at least six of the “at risk” schools have predominantly minority students, including St. Joseph of the Holy Family and All Saints in Manhattan. In the Bronx, they include St. Augustine, St. Martin of Tours, Saints Anthony and Frances, and Saint Pius V Girls High School, the only high school on the list.

Mr. Zwilling said no school had been placed on the list based on how much the Archdiocese had spent on it, but rather on its record of enrollment and its prospects for increasing enrollment.

The 31 elementary schools on the list represent 17 percent of the Archdiocese’s 185 elementary schools and 8.4 percent of their enrollment. (The list is on the Archdiocese’s Web site,

Patricia Gabriel, president of the Federation of Catholic Teachers, which represents 284 full-time and 84 part-time instructors in the threatened elementary schools, said teachers were “in shock at the size of the cuts.”

“We knew something was afoot, but we hoped that it wouldn’t be quite so devastating,” Ms. Gabriel said.

Via New York Times