Brooklyn Catholic Diocese grapples with school closings
Major changes are on the way for Catholic education in Brooklyn.
In the wake of news that Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst would be closing, the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn announced the upcoming closures of two more schools, one in Brooklyn and another in Queens.
Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Academy in Mill Basin and Saint Camillus Catholic Academy in Rockaway will both be closing in June, according to the diocese, which covers both boroughs.
The Board of Members, a panel comprised of clergy members, and the Board of Directors in each of the schools voted to close the institutions due to declining student enrollment and severe budget deficits, the diocese said, concerns reflected in their recently released statistics.
Enrollment at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Academy is down 35 percent over the last five years, and the school has a budget deficit of more than $200,000.
At Mary Queen of Heaven, enrollment is down nearly 60 percent from what it was five years ago. The school is more than $300,000 in the red.
St. Camillus has a deficit of more than $20,000 for this year and saw deficits of more than $100,000 in the two previous years. Enrollment has decreased by 25 percent over the past five years.
Meanwhile, a pair of struggling Catholic schools in Bushwick will be merging in an effort to avoid a similar fate.
St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy and St. Brigid Catholic Academy will join together to form a school called St Brigid-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy, located on St. Brigid’s campus in Bushwick.
The merger is scheduled for the start of the 2019-2020 school year, officials said.
To give St. Brigid-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy a boost, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust will provide it with funding. The school will also be getting a technology upgrade through the DeSales Media Group.
The changes are hitting students, parents and teachers hard.
“It’s an emotional time for the diocese when schools have to close, because it is affecting the lives of students, parents, and faculty. The decisions come after intense analysis of enrollment trends and the financial picture of each academy. I’ll respect the boards’ decisions on these matters. When resources are constrained, it affects all aspects of the learning environment, which eventually impacts students and their needs,” said Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of schools for the diocese.
To ease the stress on parents and students, the academies slated to close will host informational meetings to assist with the process of selecting a new school. Administrators from neighboring Catholic schools will attend to provide information to parents who might be interested in enrolling their children.
Students who are currently enrolled in the schools targeted for closure will be eligible to receive a one-time-only $500 tuition assistance grant from the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust if they decide to attend a Catholic school within the Diocese of Brooklyn.
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