Local Catholic schools try new approach
By Sarina Trangle
Next fall, Catholic schools across the state will be looking to northwest Bronx parochial schools for answers about how to up enrollment and make Catholic elementary education more economically viable.
Our Lady of Angels, St. Gabriel’s, St. John’s, St. Margaret of Cortona and Visitation schools are among 18 elementary schools throughout the borough in a regionalization pilot program that places parish-based institutions under the guidance of a board of trustees.
In fall 2011, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced the Archdiocese of New York would regionalize 276 schools in the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island as well as Duchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties to try to stave off closings by having schools pool financial and educational resources.
Each parish will contribute 25 percent of its income to its region when consolidation goes into effect in September 2013. The ten regional budgets will also be bolstered by a 1 percent increase in an archdiocese-wide tax and a $40 million endowment created by selling and renting closed school buildings.
The funding changes will not hit the Northwest/South Bronx pilot region until next year, but the 18 elementary schools involved boroughwide have already shifted their governance.
Schools previously reported to their parish, a central schools office and a borough or county superintendent. Now, Regional Superintendent Ray Vitiello and a 17-member Board of Trustees guide the day-to-day operations of the region, which is classified as a non-profit charter school organization by the state Education Department. Local schools may turn to the regional Business Secretary BriAna Pechin for monetary advice in addition to the accountants and other financial professionals the archdiocese has on staff.