NEW YORK (CNS) — Five Archdiocese of New York schools will close at the end of the academic year while another will be converted to prekindergarten education.
Schools closing include St. Ann, Visitation and St. Mary schools in the Bronx, St. Gregory the Great School in Manhattan and St. Peter’s Regional School in Liberty, about two hours north of the city, the archdiocese announced Feb. 6.
Sts. Peter and Paul School in the Bronx will no longer offer elementary education and will begin prekindergarten classes in the fall, the archdiocese also said.
The closings in New York City come as the archdiocese carries out its 2013 Making All Things New planning initiative. The archdiocese said that the schools were located at parishes where facilities, including churches, are used sporadically.
“Despite the archdiocese’s best efforts to maintain the operational and financial viability of these schools in light of the closure of their co-located parish, continuing to educate students in a school where a significant portion of the facility is unutilized has proven infeasible,” the archdiocese said in a statement.
Enrollment at the school in Sullivan County had declined, necessitating that it be closed, the archdiocese said.
Joseph Zwilling, archdiocesan director of communications, said the archdiocese pledged to assist parents find the right fit for their children in new schools.
The Federation of Catholic Teachers, the union representing teachers at the schools, expressed concern about the closings, saying hundreds of students and 76 full-time and part-time teachers would be affected.
In a statement, the teachers federation said that the notice from the archdiocese came without “ample warning” to allow teaching staff to plan a transition with officials. Citing the closing of 30 schools in 2011 and another 25 in 2013, the federation said it had worked with the archdiocese in advance to ensure that teachers were employed elsewhere in the archdiocese.
Zwilling told Catholic News Service Feb. 7 that he expects the federation’s concerns about employment for teachers to be resolved because the contract between the archdiocese and the union calls for placing teachers who are affected in other schools.
Noting that turnover in the teaching staff in archdiocesan schools averages 10 percent to 12 percent annually, Zwilling said there should be plenty of openings for all of the affected teachers.
“Finding placements for the teachers is not going to be anything we’re expecting to have difficulty with,” he said.