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St. Jerome’s and seven other Bronx Catholic schools put on notice

 

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New York Archdiocese says it’s part of “strategic plan”

Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York speaking to the Daily News Editorial Board recently.

 ANTONELLI, RON,NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York speaking to the Daily News Editorial Board recently.

Among the eight Bronx Catholic schools identified as “at risk” for closure by the Archdiocese of New York is storied St. Jerome, which opened its school doors more than 140 years ago on Alexander Ave.

Alumni of the school, which now serves a large Mexican population, were saddened by the news, announced Monday. In total, 26 schools within the archdiocese are on the list.

“I feel strongly that the mission of the Catholic church in New York has always been to educate the immigrant population,” said John Walzer, head of the alumni association, who graduated from St. Jerome in 1956. “What’s going to happen to all these children that are in the inner city? Where are they going to go?”

Four schools in the Northwest/South Bronx region and four schools in the Northeast Bronx region have been deemed struggling. They are Holy Spirit, Our Lady of Angels, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Jerome, Blessed Sacrament, St. Anthony, St. Mary and St. Mary Star of the Sea.

St. Anthony and Blessed Sacrament have the lowest enrollments, with 160 and 175 children, respectively.

This decision was the first major one by the new reorganization committees set up by the archdiocese last year. A final decision will be made in early January.

“We looked at the budget for the schools, and then the decision had to be made how we would meet that budget,” said Rev. John Jenik, a member of the committee. “There’s no way you could support a school in a poorer area where the incomes are not that high to pay the full freight for the education of the child.”

He added the boards would be looking for a “drastic turnaround” strategy from pastors and principals who wanted to appeal the decision in meetings this week.

Superintendent of Schools Timothy McNiff said everything is going according to the “Pathways to Excellence” plan laid out about three years ago.

“Although it may appear, this is not crisis management,” McNiff said. “This is a very detailed, thought-out process…and this culminates the implementation of our strategic plan.”

He added that this is the last round of schools to likely close.

“Now that we’ve done this, we do not have to close schools going forward,” said McNiff.

“Now, it is a matter of looking for those opportunities to open new schools.”

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