Tag Archives: Catholic school

Community rallies to stop closing of Astoria Catholic school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

An Astoria community is speaking out after finding out that one of its Catholic schools, which has served the community since 1957, will be shutting its doors this June.

Parents and students at Most Precious Blood School, located at 35-32 37th St., found out Friday, through a letter written by Reverend William Krlis, pastor at Most Precious Blood Church, that the 58-year-old school would be closing due to drops in enrollment and the need for costly structural repairs.

Over the past five years enrollment has dropped “precipitously,” Krlis said in the letter, adding that enrollment from kindergarten through eighth grade this year is 191 students, compared to 303 students in September 2008 and 20 students less than last year.

Krlis also said that an estimated $5.5 million in structural repairs are needed for both the school and church. The school building needs about $2.55 million in repairs and work cannot be done at the site while being used full time.

“These essential building repairs, combined with declining enrollment, will not allow us to continue,” Krlis said. “This decision was not made easily. After much dialogue with all relevant parties, including officials from the Diocese of Brooklyn and local Catholic schools, as well as consulting with engineering firms regarding the state of these necessary repairs, I presented these facts to the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. With his support, I made this painful decision in the best interest of the parish community.”

However, for parents, who started an online petition Saturday against the closing, the reasons that lead to the decision aren’t enough to close the doors at the school.

“We do not want our children and beloved teachers and staff displaced! Quality Catholic Education is almost nonexistent and we cannot afford to close yet another school,” wrote Jennifer Masterson, who started the petition. “Schools in this area are already overcrowded, this will only add to the problem.”

Parents signing the petition also said the timing of the announcement did not leave them enough time to find another school for their children or give them an opportunity to attempt to raise the money needed for repairs.

Since Tuesday, the petition, which has a goal of 2,500 signatures, has garnered 2,104 supporters, including parents, residents and alumni.

According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, help will be provided for parents, and the neighboring Catholic schools will have seats to accommodate Most Precious Blood students and provide information on upcoming open houses.

Local politicians have also decided to speak out against the school closing. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and Councilman Costa Constantinides have written a letter to the Diocese expressing their concern and asking to reconsider the decision and explore all possible options to keep the school open.

“The outpouring of support from the community and the fear parents are now experiencing over the planned closure of the Most Precious Blood School demonstrate just how much this institution means to our neighbors,” Gianaris said. “I sincerely hope that the Diocese listens to the voices of our community and recommits itself to trying to find a way to keep this beloved school open.”

A meeting with parents has been scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium to review what led to the decision to close the school.

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College Point Catholic school shutting its doors


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The final bell will soon ring for a Catholic elementary school in College Point, officials said.

St. Fidelis School, at 124-06 14th Avenue, will close its doors for good in June after more than a century of serving the community, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees Queens.

“St. Fidelis School will be fully operational until the last day of school, continuing to provide a quality education,” said Monsignor Denis Heron, an administrator at the school. “We place our trust in God and ask His guidance as we move into the future. We ask your understanding and cooperation.”

The nursery through eighth grade institution faced declining enrollment and increased operating costs, officials said in a statement.

Enrollment at St. Fidelis dropped to 144 students this year from 242 five years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn said. Parish schools in Brooklyn and Queens, who serve kindergarten through eighth grades, are identified as “at-risk” of closing when enrollment falls below 225 students.

Diocese officials also said the parish, which opened in 1857, does not have “the financial resources to bridge the gap” between the $3,400 tuition per student and the actual $6,119 per-pupil costs.

Neighboring parishes will take in students from St. Fidelis, according to Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Plans are also underway, Chadzutko said, to place faculty members seeking teaching jobs at another Catholic school in Brooklyn or Queens on priority lists.

 

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