Save St. Paul the Apostle School in Yonkers
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The parents, students, and faculty of St. Paul the Apostle in Yonkers, NY implore you to reconsider the decision to permanently close our beloved school. We ask for a joint dialogue to cooperatively keep St Paul’s from closing its doors.
The letter from the Archdiocese of New York states “mass unemployment and continuing health concerns have resulted in families’ inability to pay their current tuition and a significantly low rate of re-registration for the fall while months of canceled public masses and fundraising for scholarships have seen a loss of parish contributions which traditionally help support the schools”. The ongoing subsidy from the archdiocese to our school is low in comparison to neighboring schools. The decision also disregards the quality of the curriculum and programs offered at a school that was honored and touted as the “best-kept secret in Yonkers”. Year after year St Paul’s graduates score well above average and continue in their educational careers at NY Catholic high schools with a significant scholarship for academic excellence, including the prestigious Regis school.
The announcement during the dog day of summer, transitioning from “shelter in place” orders, prevents families and faculty from performing the normal functions and routines necessary to switch schools. The neighboring schools were flooded by anxious parents scrambling for any port in the storm to register our children. This seems contradictory to making Catholic schools more sustainable when the easiest option all around is for parents and teachers to turn to public schools during this pandemic. The letter also indicates this change is for the long-term benefit of students and families. However, that goal seems counter-intuitive to the situation that has been placed upon our students, families, and faculty as detailed below.
Schools in jeopardy are normally alerted before closure. This gives them a chance to recognize the problem, formulate a response, and action a plan to remedy the situation. St. Paul received NO WARNING!
One day after the July 9th announcements, the Archdiocese offered each affected student $1,000 if they enrolled in a regional catholic school. Why was this offer not made before 20+ schools were closed/combined? It is likely the low rate of enrollment would have seen an increase. The low enrollment is a direct result of the uncertainty around how schools & our lives will look in Sept 2020. To close a successful school because of a decrease in enrollment in the midst of a pandemic is NOT FAIR. The IRS made an allowance for the unique situation we are in, why did the archdiocese not follow suit?
On top of the COVID-19 adjustments made over the past several months from in-person to distance learning, you are now forcing students who are all under the age of 13 to endure additional social/emotional adjustments and extend their stress through the next 5 months. Older students may not be able to receive effective recommendations for high school, which could keep them from receiving the same amount of scholarships. All students will be separated from teachers and friends that know them best. Students will have no time to experience a new school before September. Some students are experiencing the loss of the only school they have known, while others must yet again make the change to another school, after seeing previous Catholic grade schools close. Many students who receive educational support from Public School #21 (mere feet from the doors of St. Paul)will most likely need to travel via bus to a less convenient Public School, compounding the stress on our learning disadvantaged students.
No warnings were given to parents to allow them to digest this information over time. Also, no support materials were readily available at the time of the announcement. General expectations in the business world are that the human resources department of the organization would provide all information materials at the time of the announcement. In addition, because of COVID-19, families are not able to make alternative plans. Potential visits to schools (Catholic, private, or public) and opportunities to shadow at a new location (before the 2020-2021 school year) starts are not options. Parents who have dealt with Catholic school closures previously are less likely to move to yet another school, which is highly likely to be shut down prior to their students completing their elementary or middle school years there.
Our teachers have dedicated their careers to St. Paul the Apostle. After working hard to continue providing a world-class education during distance learning, this is how the Archdiocese thanks them for their dedication, flexibility, and efforts. Instead, they were abruptly told in a group video call that they no longer have a job for the upcoming school year. This approach is neither professional nor displays Christian values. As contracts are normally signed in March, most openings are already filled at other schools. The economic turmoil of this pandemic makes job-hunting impossible for those starting a search now. With the number of schools closing without notice, there are fewer positions available for teachers who have spent their careers supporting Catholic education.
The thriving community around St. Pauls is dedicated to the parents, students, and faculty. Closing the school will again negatively affect a community already under strain by the COVID epidemic.
Join us and make your voices heard! Please sign this petition and help us fight for our beloved school!
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