Brooklyn Boro

Six Catholic academies in Brooklyn and Queens to close

July 10, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Six Catholic academies located in Brooklyn and Queens will permanently close, effective Aug. 31, the Diocese of Brooklyn Office of the Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services announced on Thursday.

“The devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis on enrollment and finances, an issue faced by many Catholic schools in the region and across the country, made it impossible for [the schools] to reopen for the coming school year,” said a statement from the Diocese, which encompasses both Brooklyn and Queens.

The six schools are:

  • Queen of the Rosary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
  • Gregory the Great in Crown Heights/Flatbush, Brooklyn
  • Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park, Queens
  • Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Queens
  • Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens
  • Mel’s Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens

Collectively, these schools have seen a decline in enrollment over the last five years, but the registration totals for the upcoming school year are down significantly, largely due to the massive unemployment and loss of business that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

More than $630,000 in tuition bills for the past school year (2019-2020) remains outstanding at these schools.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our Catholic community to have to close these schools, but the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic is insurmountable. The difficult decisions come after the intense analysis of the financial picture of each academy,” said Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D., superintendent of schools.

Efforts are being made to help transition affected students and families to nearby Catholic academies. To help this effort, the Diocese of Brooklyn, through the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, will provide a one-time $500 financial grant for each child who was attending a school that will be closed and is enrolling in and attending a new Catholic school in Brooklyn or Queens this fall, as long as they have met all of their financial obligations.

For those who meet the financial eligibility, tuition assistance is available through Futures in Education.

Online informational meetings will begin next week for parents at the academies scheduled to close. Administrators and personnel from neighboring Catholic academies will be available virtually to present their programs and answer any questions parents may have.

Despite the closures, the Diocese said there is great optimism about the future of Catholic education in Brooklyn and Queens.

“Our smaller and caring community of schools has many advantages as witnessed by how quickly we adapted to remote learning this spring. In grades K-8, we were nearly one-to-one, students to devices with data plans, an incredible feat which allowed for distance learning success in our schools. The learning went on in our schools for six hours a day, so our children knew that even though they were separated, they were not alone,” said Chadzutko.

Catholic schools have faced financial difficulties for a number of years, according to an Associated Press article published in June, but the pace of closures is accelerating dramatically amid the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not a pretty picture right now,” Sister Dale McDonald, public policy director of the National Catholic Educational Association, told the Associated Press.

Most of the closures nationwide are occurring at the elementary level, but also on the list were a number of venerable and beloved high schools including some that produced some famous alumni.

“The loss of Catholic schools is a loss to America,” said Mary Pat Donoghue, executive director of the Catholic Education Office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The long-term enrollment decline has resulted from demographic changes, parents’ difficulty affording tuition and competition from public and other private schools, Donoghue explained. Factors related to the pandemic have only aggravated the problems, she added.

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