Our Lady of Angels School’s graduation ceremony this June will be its last.
The Archdiocese of New York announced Tuesday that the Northwest and South Bronx Board of Trustees has voted to close the 84-year-old Catholic school.
After setting a seemingly impossible financial goal as a condition for keeping the school open, a board created this fall to oversee and consolidate local parochial schools, rejected the financial plan put forth by a group representing the school community because board chair Pastor Joseph Franco said it failed to prove the school could operate independently.
The school community frantically fundraised for a month, but Our Lady of Angels supporters fell short of the $900,000 necessary to prove the school could operate for three years without archdiocese support. The group had raised an impressive $232,000 by a Jan. 2 deadline, but it was $668,000 too little.
Father Franco also said that he doubted the likelihood that donations, such as the $100,000 check the school received from an anonymous supporter, would be replicated in the future.
“Yes, it was enough to keep it open for the first year,” he said. But he said that it wasn’t enough to shore up the school’s future and that its precarious financial position “sends a signal to parents that there is no confidence to be had in enrolling your child in Catholic schools because it’s a matter of time before they close.”
Principal Sister Mary Cleary, Our Lady of Angels Pastor Thomas Lynch and parishioner Anne Crichlow had urged the board’s reconfiguration committee, which includes the superintendent and corporate secretary of area schools, the Northwest Bronx vicar, Father Franco and one lay person, to consider a plan to add universal pre-kindergarten and bolster the school’s budget. But in the end, the board decided to close the decades-old Kingsbridge Heights school.
Father Thomas Lynch said it was tough to deliver the news to Principal Sister Mary Cleary, teachers and parents.