Hundreds of parents and their children showed up at more than a dozen Catholic schools in Manhattan and the Bronx Wednesday knowing this year will be the last that those schools will be open. The morning after the New York Archdiocese announced the closings, Manhattan reporter Jon Weinstein found many parents trying to figure out what to do now and filed the following report.
As bundled up parents and students arrived at the Holy Cross School in Times Square Wednesday they were faced with another cold reality: Their fight to keep the school open is over, and they lost.
"For this school to be so historic and here for so long, and now it's closing is really devastating for parents and the children that grew up together," said Tracey Cumberbatch, a parent.
"Holy Cross is a great school, and we don't want it to close," said Rance Perry, a student.
The windows, walls and doors at Holy Cross are filled with pleas to "Save our school." Many of the parents work in the neighborhood and bring their kids to the school from their homes outside Manhattan.
"I work in the neighborhood so I drop her off, I know she's in a safe community, I pick her up, we go back home, it's not only that it's safe, it's convenient," said Madelena Fontanez, a parent.
Parents were told they needed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars if they wanted to keep the school open for its 200 students. They say they put forward a plan showing they raised nearly all the money, but that wasn't enough.
"They listened, I believe they read the reports, but then they did this," said Eva Leclercq, a parent.
Holy Cross is not alone. Four other Catholic elementary schools in Manhattan are slated to be closed. They include St. Jude School in Inwood, Annunciation School in Harlem, Holy Name of Jesus on the Upper West Side, and the St. James-St. Joseph School in Chinatown.
St. Agnes Boys High School is also scheduled to close at the end of the year.
The Archdiocese of New York says the decisions were made because the schools were not economically viable anymore. Still, some parents are skeptical.
"We need to know what the real reason is here, we need them to tell us the truth," Leclercq said.
Most of the parents at the Holy Cross School are now faced with the decision about what to do for next year, and most of them just don't know yet.
"Gotta find another school, other Catholic schools that are open. Gotta find one that works with our budget and that's close to work and go from there," said Marcus Timmons, a parent.
The archdiocese says it will work with parents to relocate their children.