Parochial Pests: At-Risk Schools

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By next year, more than 3,000 parochial students from schools in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island will have to find a new school if the Archdiocese of New York proceeds with a plan to shut 17 schools in the city.

The closures are part of the recently announced plan to close 32 schools across the state due to lower student enrollment and an increasing reliance on the archdiocese for financial support, according to a statement released by the Archdiocese.

Many point to economic challenges. The average annual cost for catholic school tuition tops $3,383 according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

“Parents are out of work,” said Nina Silva, a parishoner of St. Sylvester’s on Staten Island. “They have to decide if they want to pay the mortgage, buy food, or pay for tuition.”

With a smaller number of students paying tuition, strained budgets have forced closures across the country. Nationwide, only 24 new schools opened while 174 closed, according to the NCEA. But changing demographics also play a factor.

The church has lost many members in recent years. A 148-page Pew study of 35,000 Americans found that one in three were raised as Catholics, but less than a quarter now identify with the religion.

If the Archdiocese proceeds with the plan, it said it would guarantee a spot in another Catholic school. To see if a school near you is affected, check out this interactive map below.

View Catholic Schools Closing in a larger map

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