A new round of school shutdowns is causing anger and anxiety across the Archdiocese of New York. Five Catholic schools in the city will close this June — this is in addition to the 55 Catholic schools that have closed in the city and the northern suburbs since 2011. Bronx borough reporter Erin Clarke reports.
It was a difficult morning at Saint Ann's Catholic school, after students went home Monday with the crushing news that St. Ann's will close.
"I was just emotional," said parent Erica Olivo. "I was crying."
The Archdiocese of New York identified Saint Ann as one of five schools it is closing in the city because of dwindling church attendance and finances. All the schools are for students in grades K through eight.
They include the Visitation School in Kingsbridge and Saint Mary in Williamsbridge, both in the Bronx, and St. Gregory the Great on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
The fifth school — Saints Peter and Paul, in the South Bronx, will transition to pre-kindergarten students, only.
"I know how good this school is," said parent Tony White. "Why the hell are you shutting it down?"
The Archdiocese says all students are guaranteed a seat at other Catholic schools. For St. Ann students, they are suggesting Saint Brendan School — five blocks away, but parents are skeptical.
"Do you think every single child is going to get a spot at St. Brendan's?" asked parent Asuncion Bardina. "Absolutely not. They're going to be left out in the cold."
The Archdiocese says tenured teachers will be re-assigned, but there are no guarantees for non-tenured faculty. The archdiocese says only that it will try to find positions for them, too.
"Is Saint Brendan's an option for you?" said teacher Tracy McGovern. "It depends on where there's availability."
Parents and staff at the school consider the closing one more insult. Two years ago, St. Ann's church also closed.
It was one of 43 city churches closed in a sweeping consolidation by the Archdiocese, the largest restructuring in its history.
"There was lots of mixed emotion and pain when they closed down this church," said parent Mariagoretti Ibeukaogo. "Now it's the school and it's so painful."
"We were assured the school was going to stay open and then the school closes. It's a stab in the back."
Now these parents say they will fight to keep their school open.
But they're facing an uphill battle. The archdiocese says keeping these schools open is financially impossible.