THE BRONX — A total of three Catholic schools in The Bronx are slated to close at the end of the school year, while another school will turn into a universal pre-K program.
The Archdiocese of New York recently announced that St. Ann School in Norwood, Visitation School in Kingsbridge and St. Mary School in Wakefield will close, along with St. Gregory the Great School on the Upper West Side and St. Peter's Regional School in Sullivan County.
Sts. Peter and Paul School in Morrisania will turn into a universal pre-K program starting in September. The school currently serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
"These are difficult but necessary decisions," Superintendent Dr. Timothy McNiff said in a statement, "and working together we will ensure our Catholic schools are stronger than ever."
The schools serve just over 1,000 students, and the archdiocese will have placement counselors in them to help parents determine the best option for where their children should go next school year, archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.
The archdiocese will work with teachers at the schools as well to place them in other locations, according to Zwilling.
Sts. Peter and Paul School and St. Peter's Regional were experiencing a decline in enrollment, and the other four schools will be closing because their local parishes have merged with nearby churches.
"These were all good schools, but Church praxis in this country has been that schools are connected to a local church," Zwilling said. "Since these four churches (St. Ann’s, Visitation, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Mary) are now only used on special occasions, it was not feasible to keep the schools open going forward."
Julia Pignataro, president of the Federation of Catholic Teachers, was extremely upset with the decision, saying that the archdiocese did not provide enough warning about the closures and that 76 full- and part-time teachers would now be left with an uncertain future.
"Catholic school teachers are well-educated, certified, professional and dedicated to their students and their schools, and are left to wonder what lies ahead," Pignataro said in a statement. "These men and women will remain in their classrooms educating their students through the end of the school year."