Tag Archives: Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn

Alumni fear for future of Christ the King High School following lawsuit

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Alumni and parents of current Christ the King High School (CK) students are blasting the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn after it filed a lawsuit against the institution last week.

The Diocese is suing the school to force the Board of Trustees to reaffirm an agreement that says the institution must remain a Catholic high school or relinquish control, which is a long-standing promise between the two parties.

However, people are seeing the move by the Catholic organization as a money grab and are afraid the Diocese might try to close the school.

“I was upset by it,” said Janet LaCava, a Christ the King alumna. “I think that CK has worked hard to make it a self-sustaining entity, and with so many schools closing, to possibly cause an excellent school to close when it is doing so well, does not make sense to me.”

In the mid-1970s CK was on the verge on closing due to financial problems, according to numerous sources close to the school. At that time the Diocese transferred control of the school to the Board, under the request that the school stay a Catholic high school. The members of the board, which were made up of parents, eventually returned the school from financial strains.

Presently, the Board has found a way to generate cash by opening up continuing education classes such as dance and Spanish, a day care and a preschool. Additionally, this year they started renting space to a public charter school, Middle School Preparatory. In the last three years the school, which costs about $9-10 million yearly to operate, has made about $3.7 million from these measures, according to Thomas Ognibene, the school’s lawyer.

That money has gone to making repairs and underwriting tuition for CK students.

The Diocese has said that it requires schools that have opened Charter schools donate 40 percent of rent revenue to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, which helps disadvantaged students afford a Catholic elementary school education, and that CK has not complied. But Ognibene said that in July the Board agreed with the Diocese to a plan to pay more than $1.7 million over the next five years, which includes the 40 percent of rent revenue from the charter school.

Ognibene fears that the Diocese is planning to reacquire the school and close it.

“This is a very shallow plan by the Diocese,” he said. “There is no question in our minds that they want to close the school. They are clearly going out of the business of Catholic education.”

“We have said a 100 times that we have no intention to close the school,” said Marty McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the Diocese. “We love this school. Our question is what has been going on over there?”

Christ the King has until November 24 to reply to the lawsuit.



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.