WBEN NewsRadio 930>Audio & Video on Demand>>Buffalo Catholic Diocese Announces Closing of 10 Elementary Schools

Buffalo Catholic Diocese Announces Closing of 10 Elementary Schools

Jan 15, 2014|

Ten Buffalo Catholic Elementary Schools to close at end of school year

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

We have a number of important announcements to make today. As we continue to implement faith in tomorrow. The strategic planning process for. Catholic elementary schools in the diocese of buffalo that was launched in June of 2011. While that work began before my installation. Here. As bishop in August of 2012. I quickly embraced the concept. Having been through this work in the diocese of Portland Maine before I came here. And support the efforts of the Catholic school advisory council. Our pastors and principles and countless -- volunteers. Who put the good of count that schools. Ahead on parochial concerns. As a result of the announcements that we're making today. We're moving towards an equilibrium. Among our Catholic elementary schools. Allowing for continued accessibility. Sustainability. And future growth. First we were involved in preliminary discussions with the -- and children's scholarship fund. Regarding a scholarship program which could potentially increase Catholic school enrollment. And positively affect the future of our elementary schools. This new tuition assistance could mean that hundreds of students. Who are seeking to transfer out of buffalo public schools. Could have the opportunity to enroll in Catholic elementary schools. The possible infusion. Of new students into our schools. -- allow us to keep open all Catholic elementary schools in the city of buffalo. Providing even more children the chance to take advantage of the unparalleled education. That is offered in our schools. We're grateful to the -- and fund. And we look forward to continued collaboration. As part of our mission to serve those in -- Under this revitalization. Plan. Ten schools. Will close. When you think of the students. The families. The faculty. The staff. The parishioners. The alumni. The supporters of these schools. You realize just how gut wrenching. This day is for them. I ask that you keep them in your prayers. And I also ask that all neighboring Catholic schools be welcoming. And compassionate. As these families make the transition. To another Catholic elementary school. This. Is an important. And I assure you very heavy responsibility. That I'd be there as bishop. But carefully planned to change. I have come to believe. Is the only way to go. We're making timely and proactive decisions that will allow our schools. To get better and stronger. Using our resources in the most prudent way. The data. Is overwhelming. And it's reflected in what is happening. In the public schools. Buffalo business first reported just this month and I quote. You won't find a school district in Western New York. With the growing student population. That's the real. Neighboring Catholic schools will be able to accommodate. Every student transfer. And I encourage families of the closing schools. To continue their commitment to Catholic education. While remaining in their home parachutes. If their children and role in another school. They will continue to receive the parishioner rates. We might not be here this afternoon though making this announcement. Had the New York State Legislature approved the education investment tax credit bill. Which would benefit Catholic private. And public schools. The tax credit would also benefit teachers in Catholic private and public schools. It's a dollar for dollar state tax credit for any person or business. That makes a donation to public schools or private scholarships. Which can be claimed on personal income tax or corporate tax forms. It also provides a state tax credit for individuals. Making direct monetary contributions. To local education funds. To support a school or school district. And donations to prekindergarten programs. Nonprofit organizations providing educational. Programs and public schools. And nonprofit organizations. That provide scholarships to public and nonpublic schools. Our Catholic school families. Support. Public schools. In the taxes they pay. And the millions of dollars in savings that a crew to New York State. By these families educating their children in our Catholic schools. These families deserve help from their representatives in Albany. And the scholarship tax credit bill is the way to do -- State legislators representing buffalo and Western New York. Surely understand the valuable service. Our schools bring to their constituents. And to the community. While nearly every one of our legislators. Supports this bill. They cannot sit back and ignore the plight. That buffalo and Western New York families face. It's now time for the senate and the assembly. To pass the education investment tax credit bill. It is time for governor Andrew Cuomo to sign that bill into law. The strong foundation. For Catholic schools remains. 99%. Of Catholic high school students graduate. And 98%. Of those graduates go on to college. Graduates of our Catholic high schools and close to 160. Million dollars in college scholarships. Each year. Our success is unmatched. And will remain so. I'm most grateful for the leadership of our secretary pick -- -- education. -- -- act and sister Carol's -- ourselves superintendent. Of county schools. Together. They have guided this process with the integrity and steadfastness. I also would like to thank doctor Geraldine -- Chair of the Catholic school advisory council. And her predecessor -- diploma I dig as well as the entire council. For their hard work and dedication. And now Carol -- and yet we'll talk about what brought us to today's announcements. Good afternoon everyone. The process which brought us to today has been intense. Data driven. And is inclusive of possible. As the bishops that we are grappling with the same things every public school district it is. Revitalization. Of Catholic elementary schools is driven by three major elements. The first element is the continuous drive to improve academic performance. Enhance our programs. And maintain those high academic standards. Our focus must be honors students. Specifically. The implementation of streamed programs. Is a critical priority. You've all heard about stems science technology engineering and math. We add to religion and arts as being important and sister Carol we'll talk about that shortly. Some of these parents expectations for a high quality programs and welcoming their imports are important considerations. Second. Schools in the eight counties of the diocese of buffalo. Must recognize. And adapt to slower economic growth. To demographic change. Fewer households. An aging population. Changing family structure. And fewer children. Out migration. Decreasing numbers of women of childbearing age and an increasing competition from public and charter schools are also factors. -- We must consider our internal factors. Such as the need to increase revenues. And provide financial assistance to families in need. Optimize operating expenses across many schools and abroad geography. Improve organizational efficiencies. And upgrade aging facilities. Other realities to be addressed include fewer parishioners. And parishes. Retention and development of skilled and dedicated staff and faculty. And finally fewer priests and clergy to support our schools. Throughout the entire planning process. The issue of Catholic identity was Paramount. Parents who Entrust their children to Catholic schools. Expect that their children will receive a quality. Catholic education. Imbued with gospel values of faith justice and charity. This revitalization. Process. Has resulted in renewed dedication of the clergy. The enhanced sense of partnership between pastors and principles. And the strengthening of Catholic identity and the Catholic culture over schools. This also to -- a challenging issues requires continuous study. Measurement. Evaluation. An action. Each school will continue to be accountable to meet the annual financial benchmarks. And objectives. Which were first established in 20072008. And reiterated in the plan titled faith and tomorrow. Since mid 2010. Nagging facilities. Have been closed or consolidated. They did not meet the benchmarks. And the objectives could not be met. In an -- to remain competitive. The diocese must invest appropriately in its programs and facilities. It must operate more efficiently. It must be proactive and recognizing that demographic and financial realities of our region. To do more buildings must be closed and consolidated. The choices are difficult. And on palatable. But making these difficult decisions. Is unhappily. Enrollment levels that sums up very well. Often with fewer than 120. Students. At that level. Programs offered in schools are financially unsustainable. In many cases Catholic schools located just a few miles apart. And can be combined to form one strong school. The airport based and detailed data and market analysis. And schools have been recommended for closure and consolidation. Further. Marketing programs are being implemented and revitalization programs aren't planning stages WB EM and to increase enrollment in the remaining schools. And strengthen programs. Collapsing buildings is never -- But it allowed us to concentrate our resources. On the future of Catholic education. Improving programs and results. And Catholic schools superbly. Competitive. We are closing and consolidating buildings. But the revitalization. Plan is truly about making Catholic schools stronger. Now sister counts amino superintendent of schools for the diocese of buffalo. We'll talk about the to implement and the new programming we are announcing today. Thank you care good afternoon. As the -- Paul Harvey used to say enough for the rest of the story. Apparent survey taken in November and December of 2013. Revealed the parents are eager for new and upgraded programs in a Catholic schools. Almost 2200. Parents and other interested parties responded to the survey. Saying they want upgraded facilities. Enhanced programs. Especially -- and science and technology. And rigorous faith based learning. They also want Catholic education to be available. And affordable. Together these stakeholders in just present a real challenge to the diocese of buffalo a challenge we welcome. As he addressed the desires and concerns appearance for the -- children. Beginning this spring three long term projects will be introduced. Noted to change and improve Catholic schools of the diocese of buffalo. First. Over three year period a program called stream will be introduced. Stream is as you heard science technology religion engineering arts and mathematics. The goal extremists to prepare 21 century students for 21 century world. Students will be engaged from an early age and studying robotics architecture. Space expiration. Technical design. And other topics wrapped around a values based foundation. You've probably already seen some of our TV spots and watch for the billboards in addition there is a social media campaign. Being driven. This project would be to increase the participation of validity in the governance of our schools. This spring we'll find as buildings school boards there will be formed by the persons -- -- interested and invested in a Catholic schools. Will be asked to become more involved in planning for their future. Insuring the presence of rigorous programs. And promoting the Catholic identity of our schools. In partnership with pastors and principles. They will be a tremendous help and support. The third tragic is already begun. In November 2013. The buffalo and a -- federation of home school association. Was formed and an executive board selected. It is our hope that this group. Will provide a strong voice in Catholic education. Coordinate parent education programs. And helped to bring resources for parents to use in their own Catholic schools. In addition. We hope that this group railings -- appearance to get legislators to PS the tuition takes credit legislation. About which the bishops spoke. This would -- to ease the financial burden of our families who picked Texas to support public schools. While also paying Catholic school tuition. These initiatives. We'll change what. Happens inside their schools. The earth shattering but they would build success for which Catholic schools have always been known. Our dedicated administrators and teachers are being provided professional updating and training. And continue to meet the quality of their service a priority. We invite everyone to continue supporting us now more than ever. With your help Catholic schools we'll continue to have the highest graduation rate in Western New York. We will continue to produce students who have a solid moral grounding. And we will continue to challenge young people to be all that they were meant to be by their creator. We are dedicated to a to a process of continual improvement. And we think you will be pleased with the upgrades and improvements. That are happening in their schools. As a Riva realization Clinton goes and we invite everyone to take another look inside. Our Catholic schools are being strengthened. Reenergize. And brought up today for a new generation of youngsters. We have a great story to tell. Again thanks -- -- media for attending.