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Parents demand answers about closure of Catholic schools

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

St. Mary's Star of the Sea on City Island in the Bronx is just one of more than 20 schools that the Archdiocese of New York will be closing in a few months.

I sat down with parents from a few of those schools, and they all say they want some answers.

One said: "It's been a roller coaster of emotion."

Another said: "Shock, disgust, sadness, betrayal."

Their kids may attend different catholic schools within the Archdiocese of New York, but these parents all have the same story.

"When we got the news, everybody was devastated," Rose Davis said. She found out just after Thanksgiving that her daughter's school, St. Mary's Star of the Sea on City Island, was in trouble.

Holy Cross School in Manhattan and St. Augustine's in Rockland County were on the same list -- all in danger of closing.

Parents received a letter from the archdiocese explaining that if they came up with a certain amount of money and a three-year financial plan for their schools they could be in the clear.

"They said we had to come up with $360,000, which we did in a matter of three weeks," Davis said.

"Our specific goal was $1.2 million over the course of three years in a deficit we needed to eliminate," said Bethann Rooney, whose daughter attends St. Augustine School. "We came up with $2.1 million in five weeks."

But after raising all that money over the holidays, they found out their schools would still be closing along with almost two dozen others.

"To know that we raised this money and then the archdiocese overlooked the fact that everyone took time out to do this and still close the school is like devastating," said Willa Brown, whose son attends Holy Cross School

The news also hit students hard.

"I was crying, I was just so upset, why did they have to close our school?" said Emily Rooney.

Gary Brown, who attends Holy Cross, said: "I'm going to lose my friends, maybe some of my best friends. We won't probably go to the same school."

The archdiocese refused our request for an interview. When we asked for specifics why the schools in question were closing we got a press release, which reads, in part: "The decision to close the at-risk schools follows a painstaking, months-long review... This review included all relevant data, including enrollment, financial, academic and local demographics..."

But that's not satisfying these parents.

"We're owed an explanation," Bethann Rooney said. "And I'm not going to stop looking for an answer until we get it."

The schools are all slated for closure in June of 2013. That means a lot of these parents will have to decide pretty soon where to send their children for the next school year.

In the meantime, all of the parents are hoping that they can do something before then to save their schools.

---

List of schools to close:

Manhattan:
Annunciation
Holy Cross
Holy Name of Jesus
St. James-St. Joseph
St. Jude
 
Central Westchester:
Holy Name of Jesus, Valhalla
Our Lady of Fatima, Scarsdale
St. Casimir, Yonkers

Northern Westchester/Putnam:
Our Lady of the Assumption, Peekskill
St. Theresa, Briarcliff Manor
 
Dutchess:
St. Joseph, Millbrook
 
Rockland:
St. Augustine, New City
St. Peter, Haverstraw
 
Ulster, Orange, Sullivan:
St. Joseph, Kingston
St. Mary of the Snow, Saugerties

Northwest and South Bronx:
Holy Spirit
Our Lady of Angels
Our Lady of Mercy
St. Jerome
 
East and Northeast Bronx:
Blessed Sacrament
St. Anthony
St. Mary Star of the Sea

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