TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – St. Francis of Assisi in Tonawanda is one of 10 Catholic elementary schools expected to close at the end of the school year. But a plan is in the works to keep class in session.
This particular school seems to have all the money it needs to stay open for many years, but the question is: Will it be allowed to?
Parents were stunned when they heard the Catholic Diocese plans to close St. Francis of Assisi. Mark Saltarelli’s whole family went there.
“St. Francis is one of the few schools whose enrollment has increased since 2003,” he said. “We have never been in a better financial position. We have a half million dollars in the endowment fund and that generates $35,000 a year in cash.”
On Thursday’s WakeUp newscast, Secretary for Catholic Education Carol Kostyniak defended the decision to close St. Francis, and said what her hopes are for that endowment fund.
“We would hope that they would use that to help their students continuing education, so that endowment can follow the student,” she said.
But Saltarelli is on the committee for the endowment fund and he says even the bylaws state that in the event the school is closed, the fund is to be distributed to St. Francis parish for education.
“It’s not meant to go anywhere else,” he said.
Now Saltarelli is requesting a meeting with the Bishop.
“The scenario that I’ve presented as a compromise is if the Diocese does not want to operate the school, then we will continue to function as an independent Catholic school,” he said. “The funding that the Diocese supplies us is very little. If you don’t want us, that’s fine, but we’re going to continue to operate.”
But the Diocese says the decision has been made to close St. Francis with or without the endowment, and parents should not have false hope that it will stay open. A Diocesan spokesman also said he’s not so sure the school could simply decide to stay open on their own.
The Diocesan legal counsel will be reviewing all of it.