UWS Catholic Elementary Schools Among Several at Risk of Closing in NYC

By Emily Frost on December 12, 2012 3:10pm 

UPPER WEST SIDE — Two Upper West Side Catholic elementary schools could close as soon as next June, according to the Archdiocese of New York, which is in the midst of reorganizing more than two dozen schools in the greater New York City region. 

A November report from the Archdiocese states that "26 out of 159 regionalized, parish and Archdiocesan elementary schools are at risk of closure in June 2013" because of declining enrollment.

In Manhattan, Annunciation School on West 131st Street; Holy Cross School on West 43rd Street; Holy Name of Jesus on West 97th Street; St. Gregory the Great on West 90th Street; St. James-St. Joseph in Chinatown at 1 Monroe St.; and St. Jude School on West 204th Street are at risk.

With the threat of closure looming — a final decision will be reached by the end of January — parents are scrambling to organize and fundraise to cover widening budget gaps. Parents at Holy Name of Jesus School said they hope to raise $400,000 and are meeting regularly to search for solutions. 

Families at Holy Cross School have launched a "Save Our School" campaign asking for personal donations.

Holy Name of Jesus, which charges $4,000 per year, had 230 students this year, compared to 600 nine years ago, according to Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese.

"There has been a drop-off in that school, so the idea is to make sure that we don’t let these schools just wither and die on their own," Zwilling said. 

Part of the Archdiocese's plan is to combine several schools and have multiple parishes responsible for each school. 

Zwilling said that the decline in attendance was due to a variety of factors, including perennially changing neighborhoods. 

"There might be a charter school that opened up. There might be a population that has aged," he said.

Venus Trujillo said her son started kindergarten this year at Holy Name of Jesus and is thriving. 

"Come June we have to scramble to find new schools," she said. "It's very upsetting."

Trujillo said she and other parents are angry that the Archdiocese didn't come to the school to announce the closing.

"The Archdiocese needs to come see what Holy Name offers," she said.

"Our children participate in science fairs, pumpkin contests, walkathons, as well as art fairs. We have science labs, computer labs and smartboards in every classroom." 

Zwilling said the next step in the Archdiocese's plan is to "have meetings with the parents of any of these affected schools," and that "the school communities will have an opportunity to respond" and to make their case to the Archdiocese. 

However, he cautioned, "getting these recommendations [for closure] changed would take some convincing." 

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