The Office of the Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of New York has announced that 20 Catholic schools will be unable to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three schools in Orange County will merge.
According to a press release from the Archdiocese, the coronavirus public health crisis has had a devastating financial impact on Catholic school families and the greater Archdiocese. Mass unemployment and continuing health concerns have resulted in families’ inability to pay their current tuition, and a significantly low rate of re-registration for the fall; while months of cancelled public masses and fundraising for scholarships have seen a loss of parish contributions which traditionally help support the schools.
“Children are always the most innocent victims of any crisis, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception,” said Timothy Cardinal Dolan Archbishop of New York. “Too many have lost parents and grandparents to this insidious virus, and now thousands will not see their beloved school again. Given the devastation of this pandemic, I’m grateful more schools didn’t meet this fate, and that Catholic schools nearby are ready to welcome all the kids.”
In Orange County, St. John School in Goshen will welcome the following school communities to their campus:
Sacred Heart School in Monroe; and
St. Stephen-St. Edward School, Warwick.
Tuition, set by the Archdiocese, would have been $5,975 one child with reduced tuition for more than one child.
The Office of the Superintendent of Schools will work closely with each affected family, to help find a neighboring Catholic school for the fall. The directors of enrollment will provide each family with information and answer any questions that they may have, whether they are about enrollment, transportation or tuition. The best resource for continually updated information will always be https://catholicschoolsny.org/announcements
The superintendent’s office also is working in coordination with the teachers’ union to help faculty of the affected schools to find employment within the Archdiocesan school system.
Opposition in Warwick and Monroe
“The closing of St. Stephen’s came as a total shock,” said Casey Yazdani, president of the St. Stephen’s Home School Association (HSA). “We left the school year proud to have met our fund-raising goal, kept our enrollment steady for 2020-21, and to have taken care of any unpaid tuition with the assistance of the Educational Trust, all through a pandemic and shutdown. To hear that they were closing our campus and moving us to a smaller campus left us confused and frustrated.”
‘How can they justify the closure?’
She added that it was difficult to understand how, given the many upgrades and amenities the school has, in a thriving community full of support, on a beautiful, spacious campus with a Pre-K building onsite, why the Archdiocese would close this campus and move St. Stephen’s to an older, smaller, location with none of the latest educational upgrades that parents have worked to provide for St. Stephen’s over the last 10 years.
“When you compare the two locations, and take into account that our enrollment was steady - even probably higher than last year and our agreed upon debts were cleared,” said Yazdani, “how can they justify the closure?”
In addition to its advanced education and enrichment programs, St. Stephen’s offered a new Collaborative Learning Center/Library with STEM activity kits, a SmartBoard in each classroom, a variety of desk and seating options for group collaboration and work, an upgraded state-of-the-art network infrastructure with Wi-Fi, along with a new cafeteria and library, a computer for each student, Spanish classes for pre-K through 8th grade, a Science Lab with lab seating and a musical theater program.
Families in Monroe and Warwick have been meeting and say they plan to oppose closing their schools.