Cleansing Fire

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D&C article names remainder of new Catholic school board

August 15th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

Two weeks ago the Catholic Courier announced the creation of a 15-member diocesan Catholic school board (see here), but named only five of the new board’s members.  Those named were

Ann Marie Deutsch, principal at St. Mary School in Canandaigua;
Timothy Leahy, principal of Siena Catholic Academy in Rochester;
Bernadette McClelland, principal of Holy Family Elementary School in Elmira;
Rev. Robert Ring, pastor at Our Lady of the Lakes; and
Rev. Robert Werth of Peace of Christ in Rochester.

An article in today’s D&C has now named the remaining 10 members:

Joseph Bailey, associate dean for enrollment services at Genesee Community College;
Edward Buttaccio, news director of YNN in Rochester;
Timothy Culhane, partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP;
Thomas Gough, president of Gough Holding Corp.;
James Gould of Alesco Advisors LLC;
Wayne LeChase, chairman of LeChase Construction;
Kevin McCarthy, a corrections counselor at Southport Correctional Facility;
Corey Rutzke, a researcher at Cornell University;
Susan Stoev, manager of global marketing planning at Eastman Kodak; and
Linda Wojciechowski, executive director of the Gregory Kunde Chorale.

Wayne LeChase is the only member of the new school board who was also a member of the Bishop’s Task Force that recommended the closure of 13 Monroe County Catholic schools in 2008.

“Hard Decisions”

According to the D&C,

The Rev. Robert Ring, who is one of the new board members, said this was an opportunity for Catholic schools in the diocese to share their successes and their struggles …

“Should there be hard decisions that we have to make, we would do so with a great deal of care, understanding and prayer,” said Ring.

I have yet to see an official 2009-2010 enrollment figure for our remaining 11 Monroe County Catholic schools, but a back-of-the-envelope calculation puts it at about only 86% of the 4,000 students  the diocese has said it needed to break even.  Indeed, low enrollment was given as the reason for the June 2010 closure of the 7th and 8th grades at Our Mother of Sorrows School (see here).

Complicating the picture somewhat will be the reversion of up to 4 of  these schools to parish school status in the near future (see here and here), with unknown consequences to the combined financial health of the remaining schools.

It is possible Fr. Ring could be facing one of those “hard decisions” in the not too distant future.

UPDATE: The following comment, posted by wjbtms, just appeared at the D&C site:

I have been a Planning Officer of the Diocesan Education Depart Staff (2 years), a member of the Northwest Quadrant School Board (6 years), a member of Sacred Heart’s Education Committee, a member of Sacred Heart’s Finance Committee. I know the plight of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Rochester. It has been a grim one. Unfortunately, there has been no wisdom shown at our Diocesan Offices regarding the foundation of our Church. Without educating our children well, our numbers will only decrease. It was our method to educate our youth about our faith and create good citizens and great leaders for our Rochester community.

This new board with the exception of Mr. Tim Leahy, are rookies at understanding the challenges of Catholic Schools. Father Ring’s last quote tells so much about the attitude concerning our Catholic Schools, “Should there be hard decisions…”

I challenge this group to open a new school for those students displaced by the last round of closings.

And I join in that challenge.  It’s time to stop managing the decline and to start building for the future.

UPDATE2: More from wjbtms:

I have worked to protect Catholic Schools from closing since 1976. Here are a few of the boards created in the past, “Urban School Taskforce” – 40 members, Diocesan Quadrant Boards five boards with 20-30 members each, this lead to a Diocesan School Board with 20 or more members. There was a board recently put together to resolve the lost of students, caused by? A doubling of tuition in one year. That board decided to close 19 schools [it was actually 13 schools that closed in 2008]. Several of these schools when notified of the plans put together business plans showing they can be viable. They all got the historical answer from the administration, we have made our decision and stand by it.

Every board lead to the closing of schools!

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4 Responses to “D&C article names remainder of new Catholic school board”

  1. avatar BT says:

    How interesting that no one is representing Auburn and Cayuga County. There are two elementary schools here as well as an independent Catholic high school in the Roman Catholic tradition, Tyburn Academy, which was founded by Fr. Albert Shamon.

  2. avatar curmudgeon says:

    The future of Catholic education in the Rochester area is to be found at St. John Bosco School. There traditional Catholic liberal education is bestowed on the students by dedicated orthodox Catholics.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    http://www.johnboscoschools.org
    Tuition $1800. The school seeks to assist parents in their God given role as primary educators. Classical Catholic Education under the fine leadership of Mr. John Lyle. Check it out.

  4. avatar Bill B. says:

    The tuition is quite low. The cost is still quite high with donations taking up the slack. Seems that the “Catholic” schools should “close” if you can obtain donation funding for all students. The model appears to work. Would a sliding scale tuition help so that if you can afford it, you pay more of the cost? That seems fair. Other thoughts?


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