Dwindling enrollment and decreased funding are forcing the Archdiocese of New York to close 22 of its Catholic elementary schools and two Catholic high schools, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The closures will affect about nine percent of the elementary schools’ enrollment and more than 4,700 students in total, officials explained.
"It's painful to go through this exercise," Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of New York said. "These parents love these schools, and it's hard to have to tell them that 100 years of tradition at that community is now not going to [continue]."
McNiff said the closures are necessary for the long-term viability of the school system, which has watched enrollment decline by more than 25,000 students since 2003.
But McNiff explained the closings are a part of a multi-year plan that will group schools into a series of districts, taxing parishes, and sell or lease the remaining properties.
The Archdiocese also is pursuing other revenue strategies, such as a voucher program out of Albany that would allow businesses to get tax credits for providing scholarships, as well as an additional $30 million in funding it says Albany owes in reimbursements for certain state requirements. Some of the requirements the Archdiocese is seeking reimbursements for are administering state tests and reporting student data, The Wall Street Journal found.
McNiff said if their game plan works and is successful, they hope to completely stem any future school closures.
"We have a game plan where we can hold the line and sustain these schools going forward," he said. "Can we give absolute guarantees? No."