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St. Aloysius School in Harlem to Close in August Due To Financial Woes

 Students from St. Aloysius School in Harlem came down to the World Financial Center for a performance of The Nutcracker on Nov. 29, 2011.
Students from St. Aloysius School in Harlem came down to the World Financial Center for a performance of The Nutcracker on Nov. 29, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

HARLEM — Despite a vigorous fundraising campaign, Harlem's 76-year-old St. Aloysius School will be closing its doors for good in August.

The school’s Board of Trustees voted last Wednesday to close the school, at West 132nd Street, on Aug. 31 because of a lack of finances, according to a letter signed by the school's president and board chair that was obtained Monday by DNAinfo.

The school has made many efforts to save itself from closure, including tuition increases, cost cuts and fundraisers, according to the letter.

“The St. Aloysius Board of Trustees has been working strenuously to secure a significant, necessary funding, in the face of persistently large budget deficits,” the letter read.  

“Our total of available and pledged funds falls well short of the minimum needed to begin a new school year, once this year’s remaining obligations are met.”

On GoFundMe, an online fundraising site, the school solicited donations, which received support from alumni and other supporters.

"St. Aloysius... has the power to unlock the potential for any child to bloom like a flower," wrote Nancy Sako, an alumni of the school on the fundraising site. 

As of Monday afternoon, the school had raised more than $1.3 million dollars on the site, but fell short of its $2 million goal.

The school, whose student body is 86 percent African American and six percent Hispanic, according to an annual report, offers need-based financial assistance to any student and raises 80 percent of its annual operating expenses through gifts from foundations, corporations and individual donations. 

Mary Claire Ryan, the school's president, said the school lost two of its major funders over the course of the last three years, which created a gap that “could not be filled.”

The Peter J. Sharp Foundation and an organization called Child were two major funders that helped the school reach its financial goals, she said. 

She said, for instance, there was a projected budget of $2.9 million. However, the projected revenue was about a million dollars short without the usual major donors, which made it nearly impossible for the school to remain open.

“A financially viable way forward just was not found,” she said. 

“The decision wasn’t made quickly and wasn’t made lightly.”

She said parents, however, are still rallying to find a "miracle" to keep the school open. 

The school was founded in 1940 in Harlem by the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary, one of the first congregations of African American Catholic women in the country, for underserved low-income students.

The school has a four-year high school graduation rate of 96 percent, according to the report.

In 2010, the school became the first independent pre-K through eighth grade Jesuit school in the New York metropolitan area, according to the school’s annual report.

The school said it would assist parents and students, with the help of the Archdiocese of New York, to make plans for the next school year.