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Some Catholic Elementary Schools Face Closure Due To Financial Hardship

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With the Archdiocese of New York looking for a way to save money while still providing quality religious education, the governing body of the Catholic church is considering closing several elementary schools. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Communities are rallying together to save their schools.

"It's a great school. I actually come from another parish and we trek over here because the school has a great educational system," parent Millie Colon said. "It's a safe environment. It's a great community."

But the haven where children from many different backgrounds go each day could be lost.

Saint Mary Star of the Sea on City Island is one of eight Catholic elementary schools in the Bronx facing financial troubles. The school has been deemed "at risk" by the Archdiocese and is in danger of closing.

"We wanted to take a look at those schools in order to save money for our area in an entire Archdiocesan plan," said Rev. Stephen Norton, chairman the Northeast/East Bronx Reconfiguration Committee.

It's a hard decision for the Archdiocese, which has formed committees to review the long term viability of schools.

Part of that is raising enough money to remain sustainable over three years. This week schools met with the committees to propose how they would do that.

"At our in-person appeal, we have put forward under the leadership of our pastor, Father Mike Challinor, a three year plan that shows us needing zero subsidies from the Archdiocese for the next three years," St. Mary's Appeal Coordinator Gregory Clancy said.

The plan is to reduce the school's deficit by increasing enrollment and having parents pledge to contribute more to tuition. Saint Mary parents pay about half of what an education at the school actually costs.

Fundraising -- something organizers of the appeal don't think they'll have to worry about -- is also a big part of the plan.

"Every previous year for the past five years we've never raised more than $60,000 in a year," Clancy said. "We've raised $80,000 in two and a half weeks."

Two years ago, Saint Mary found itself in the same position. But because the school is vital to so many on and off City Island, the diverse community rallied together to save it.

Now all the St. Mary community can do is wait and hope their school can avoid closure once again.

The Archdiocese will make a final decision on Jan. 22.

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