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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fundraising falls short in effort to save school

By Sarina Trangle
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Alexandria Castro, Supicha Castro, Melissa Díaz and Jannelys Martinez spend Dec. 29 dancing to raise money to save Our Lady of Angels from the chopping block.

 

There’s nothing left to do but pray.

After frantically fundraising for a month, Our Lady of Angels presented $232,000 and a three-year plan to the Northwest and South Bronx Board of Trustees’ reconfiguration committee on Monday, in the hopes that it would spare the 84-year-old Kingsbridge Heights Catholic school from closure. 

School supporters had hoped to raise the $900,000 necessary to run the school for three years without central archdiocese funding. The board said it would spare any of the four regional schools that could prove financial independence for that time period. 

The reconfiguration committee, which includes the superintendent and corporate secretary of area Catholic schools, the Northwest Bronx vicar, the Board of Trustees chair and one lay person, will discuss Our Lady of Angels’ proposal with the entire Northwest and South Bronx Board of Trustees. On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the board will announce whether its 17 members voted to accept the school’s plan or to shutter Our Lady of Angels after graduation this June.

Principal Sister Mary Cleary, Our Lady of Angels Pastor Thomas Lynch and parishioner Anne Crichlow urged the board to consider the school’s plan to add universal pre-kindergarten and to trim its budget. 

“They were nodding their heads at points. They had a lot of questions. It was obvious that they read the plan,” said Ms. Crichlow, a Riverdalian and 1995 alumna of the school. “We made a lot, $232,000 over three weeks, so imagine what we can do in a year. I don’t see how OLA can close at this point.”

Our Lady of Angels aims to increase its pre-kindergarten- through eighth-grade enrollment from more than 230 students to 275, Ms. Crichlow said. Adding universal pre-kindergarten, a state early education initiative the city Department of Education contracts out to community organizations and private schools, would account for most of the increased enrollment.

The school also plans to tap into its alumni network to collect $100,000 annually, raise nominal fees and prune the budget in a way that does not impact academics. 

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