Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Catholic School closings leave many parents scratching their heads

The recent closing of St. Ambrose and Trinity Catholic Schools is a big topic these days with parents I speak to throughout South Buffalo. So many people (including myself) attended and graduated from one of the many now extinct Catholic grammar schools. I think what bothers some people is the perceived dishonest manner in which the parents, teachers, and students were treated by the Buffalo Diocese. It seems like they made their decision behind closed doors and then pretended as if they were looking for input and involvement from the parishioners. 

Take the closing of the two schools last week. A teacher from one of the schools (who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal), forwarded me a recent article from the Western New York Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The article was written just this past September. It talks about the uniqueness of the three remaining Catholic Schools and how they will soon be one school with three campuses. It boasts about a new leadership model, yet the leaders at St. Ambrose and Trinity Catholic weren't given any chance to increase registration under this new model. Here are various excepts from the article that will have leave many South Buffalo parents scratching their heads...

South Buffalo Catholic School takes pride in its unique structure. It is one school with three distinct campuses. A new administrative model being implemented this fall aims to further unify those campuses and strengthen Catholic education in the South Buffalo area.

Notre Dame, with about 360 students, is the strongest of the three sites in terms of education. Business First listed it as the number seven top grammar school in Buffalo. Ambrose Academy followed at number eight. Trinity is in a neighborhood with a low economic background, yet placed better than 31 of the Buffalo
public schools. “And we’re expecting Trinity to go even higher now that it’s under the new model,” said Father Judge. “By having the same guidelines, the same handbooks, everything else, it creates a better atmosphere for learning, which in turn turns into a better school of excellence for the kids.”  

The South Buffalo Catholic School Parents Association has offered plenty of ideas for fundraising for all three campuses as one entity

“There is no way that people can take a look at this and say it won’t flourish,” said Sister Joan Sherry, school board president.

I have to admit, this one got past yours truly. But, thanks to the soon to be out-of-work teacher, affected parents can go back and read the article in it's entirety. I'm not sure how many parents read it when it came out a few months ago.  

The News and the TV stations won't hold the Diocese accountable, but we will on this site. If they were truly serious, how could they pull the plug on this "new model" after only a few months? The parents of the students at all three of these buildings are terrific volunteers, coaches, and fundraisers. Trinity recently had some problems in this area, but I think a change in leadership was much needed over there, based on my conversations with parents.

 If you read the attached article in it's entirety, it is very clear: the Diocese had no intention of keeping the the three schools open long term. The plan all along appears to have been to merge to one building. It's sad that, with this new development, many students from the two closing schools will not realistically continue to receive a Catholic education. Teachers will be without jobs and parents will be forced to make some difficult choices as to where to send their children next year.

Please check out the full article here. Also, feel free to share this article with others affected by these changes.

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