Our Lady of Angels School has a month to convince the Archdiocese of New York’s Bronx Board of Trustees it has a viable plan to sustain itself financially.
Otherwise, the Claflin Avenue parochial school will close its doors for good in June.
On Monday, the archdiocese announced that local Boards of Trustees and committees overseeing Catholic schools in the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and nearby suburban communities had selected 26 schools at risk of closing, including Our Lady of Angels.
Over the past two months, a 17-member Board of Trustees has begun studying the most strategic way to stretch central archdiocese dollars among Bronx parochial schools with dwindling enrollments. Pastor Joseph Franco, the board chair, said he and his fellow priests, principals and community members on the Northwest and South Bronx Board of Trustees examined schools’ academics, enrollments, budgets, the poverty level of the surrounding communities and the proximity to other Catholic schools before suggesting closing Our Lady of Angels and three other schools.
Father Franco said no one factor doomed Our Lady of Angels, but a solid financial plan was its best bet for getting off the at-risk list.
“If Our Lady of Angels came up to us tomorrow and said we have a financial plan that will make us basically non-dependent for the next five years, that would all of a sudden, I think, raise every member of the board’s head,” Father Franco said.
School principal Sister Mary Cleary and parish Pastor Tom Lynch didn’t return calls for comment.
The Board of Trustees will meet with Pastor Lynch on Thursday, Nov. 29 to discuss why Our Lady of Angels is considered at-risk for closure and what options are available for the more than 250 pre-kindergarten through eighth-graders enrolled at the school.
Our Lady of Angels then has about a month to either accept the board’s suggestion that the school shutter or challenge the board to view a new plan or proposal.
“There is an appeal process. The diocese isn’t making a hard, fast decision here,” Father Franco said. “We’re all hoping for the best. My heart goes out to the pastors.”
In January, the board will consult with the archdiocese and announce whether it plans to close Our Lady of Angels after graduation.
A previous version of this story included an incorrect figure for the 26 archdiocese schools facing closure.