BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Ten Catholic elementary schools in the Buffalo Diocese are closing, displacing 1,154 students (K-8) and 195 faculty and staff.
Diocesan officials say schools learned Wednesday morning whether they’ll be open for the 2014-2015 school year. Wednesday afternoon parents will be notified by a letter sent home and, depending on the school, they’ll get a text or e-mail.
COMPLETE LIST of Catholic Elementary Schools in the Buffalo Diocese shown below.
Story continues below chart.
Diocesan officials say their goal is to improve Catholic education in western New York. Because of declining enrollment they have to close schools in order to keep education standards high.
Secretary for Catholic Education Carol Kostyniak said, “We need to concentrate on the student, not on the boiler, the building, the roof, the electricity, the heat. So that is what we are really looking to do.”
There are 45 Catholic elementary schools in the eight counties of the region. All 10 of the schools selected to close are in Erie County, but none are located in the City of Buffalo. Diocesan officials say they hope to raise enrollment in city schools by having students in low-performing Buffalo Public Schools transfer in.
“We are involved in preliminary discussions with the BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund regarding a scholarship program which could potentially increase Catholic school enrollment and positively affect the future of our elementary schools,” Bishop Richard Malone said in a statement released Wednesday.
The remaining schools will begin to transition to “Community Schools,” which will be governed by lay advisory boards “of limited jurisdiction” that will work with school officials on “budgeting, administrative hiring and evaluation, and other school operations.”
This trend is not exclusive to Western New York. According to the National Catholic Education Association, enrollment in Catholic schools nationwide has dropped 12 percent just in the last school year, and is down 22 percent since 2003.