Well, the Archdiocese of NY is finally preparing to take a big step to improve the financial health of its school system.
No, I’m not talking about closing more schools — which is also going to happen.
I’m talking about breaking the traditional link between parishes and parish schools, which puts tremendous financial pressure on many parishes to support money-losing schools. Many pastors have told me over the years about the tensions created by having to prop up schools.
The archdiocese is moving toward a new regional system that will allow groups of parishes — led by new regional boards of education — to oversee groups of Catholic schools.
The church outlined what’s coming in a new report released today, which describes a three-year period of planning and reconfiguring things. Archbishop Dolan has been talking about this for months, but now the process, it appears, is underway.
What is certain to get the most attention, at least for a while, will be point 1.iii on page 18: “Recommend schools to close or merge for the 2011-12 school year and provide suitable alternative Catholic school options to affected families.”
The archdiocese has closed dozens of schools in recent years. Are we talking about 5 more? 10? 20? Who knows.
But the real plan, the report makes clear, is to provide a LONG-TERM foundation for Catholic education in the 10 counties of the archdiocese. This means not only coming up with a new regional system for operating remaining schools, but also improving and modernizing academic standards and facing the bedrock question of how to best give Catholic students a firm Catholic identity.
It’s all in the report, Pathways to Excellence. You can read it HERE.