Save the Academy of St. James Of The Marches Principal, Teachers, Staff & Name - Totowa NJ

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Save the Academy of St. James Of The Marches Principal, Teachers, Staff & Name - Totowa NJ

This petition made change with 636 supporters!
Concerned ASJM Parents and Parishioners started this petition to Diocese of Paterson and it's Catholic Schools Office

(Please note: We are only requesting petition signature/comments. We are NOT requesting financial support/donations from parents and community supporters on this site.)

We, the parents of Academy of St. James (ASJM) of the Marches and Parrish, Totowa New Jersey, want to keep our existing principal, teachers, Sisters, staff, and school name, and we do not want our classes to become overcrowded. All of these issues could be imposed upon us due to a proposed merger with another Catholic school that is not as financially viable as we are.

WE NEED YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT PARENTS, friends, family, community Parrish, etc. ALL ARE WELCOME TO SIGN THIS PETITION to show support for this cause to STOP THE MERGER and its likely destructive aftermath. The objective of this petition is to demonstrate the level of COMMITMENT and LOYALTY the ASJM PARENTS AND COMMUNITY have. We want to send a very clear message about how serious we are taking this matter, so PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT to sign this and engage ASJM parents and others to do the same.

Background and series of events:
On May 29, 2019, most ASJM parents received a distressing letter via email (signed by Mary Baier). This was how we first learned a merger was being considered as a "viable option." On June 2, 2019 (4 days later) Ms. Baier, Ms. Duane, and Father Marc Mancini held a meeting at ASJM. Our principal, teaching staff, and parents attended, and parents were asked to come prepared with questions (the invitation was sent the night before the meeting).

During this meeting, Ms. Baier advised us that:

•    An agency was hired (early last year) to conduct a study on the marketability of Catholic Schools in the Diocese (the objective of study was understood differently by the Superintendent and our Administrative Staff)

•    A decision to merge was made approximately three weeks before the meeting, and was based on the outcome of the study (no study details or criteria was shared with parents)

•    The merger is DEFINITIVE -- IT IS NOT AN OPTION, and will implement in Fall 2019

As you can imagine, parents were taken aback and dismayed. Asking question after this declaration felt futile, but we pressed on (at times passionately). We are critical stakeholders, and we expressed disbelief that we were not consulted until after the decision was made. How can this be considered an ordinary course of business? How is this in line with our Parrish mission and vision?

We learned all of the following that very evening (June 2, 2019):

1.      Our Principal, Mrs. Pappas’ position is being advertised. Mrs. Pappas is greatly respected, and we are incredibly fond of her. She came into our Parrish hitting-the-ground running. We’ve seen her plan and implement so many great improvements and initiatives (i.e., installing security systems; improving processes and protocols; she was instrumental in leading the extremely difficult and financially critical 4C transition during the previous name change; and infusing the school with a welcoming and healthy social structure). Why is her position being advertised? We fear she will be replaced—the turnover rate is hurting our school. Why is this happening? Mrs. Pappas has done nothing short of an outstanding job.

2.      Our devoted and incredibly hardworking ASJM staff have no job guarantees either; they were advised that they would need to apply for interviews by June 7, and will be informed by June 24th if they will be rehired. Our children have deep familial bonds with our teachers (as do we). They are like second parents to our children. The teachers have formed bridges and support systems among themselves, and have an invaluable rich history that helps them proactively and intuitively support and guide our children and school. We can’t wrap our heads around why risking their jobs is even an option.

3.      The St. Brendan parents and staff were advised about the merger before ASJM; Enrollment and tuition from St. Brendan was already accepted (approximately 10-16 submissions were accepted as of that night); We learned ASJM is hosting an open house for St. Brendan this Wednesday, June 5—only three days after we learned of the merger. This is unconscionable.

4.      Class sizes are expected to increase; however, no validated metrics were provided during the meeting, per Ms. Baier: For the 2018-19 school year ASJM has approximately 194 students enrolled and St. Brendan's School has 182 enrolled. With those numbers if all students enroll for 2019-2020 we estimate an average of over 30 students per class. Parents are extremely concerned of overcrowded classes and how this will affect overall school performance. Parents were also informed this decision was due to low enrollment numbers (ASJM 90 enrolled and St. Brendan's 60 enrolled). Parents told Ms. Baier that as predominately working class families many families simply cannot afford the registration fees until late July. Another consideration offered was that ASJM is financially stable at this time and this merger is being done to avoid a projected future decline that could jeopardize the status of the school.

5.      A few St. Brendan parents (current and former) were in attendance and attested to concerns and issues they have/had with their Clifton administrative office and faculty. Per St. Brendan parents, they were assured there was plenty of space at ASJM to accommodate all their students.

6.      The school name will be changing again. It has been less than 2 years—this is perplexing? A rebranding change is exceptionally demanding and requires considerable funding-- who will pay for this? Renaming the school will further tear at the ASJM fabric and confuse our children; the name change adds another financial burden to parents who will need to buy new uniforms; and once again, this change will profoundly impact families who utilize 4C subsidies. The last name change required a monumental effort on behalf of parents, the administration and faculty to manage and complete the transition. It also added a financial burden to families who relied on the 4C subsidies to pay for child care (to the extent that some families are still paying fees from years prior accrued during this time). To subject parents to this again is unfathomable.

7.      Sadly, we met our new Father, Father Marc Mancini, for the first time the evening of this June 2nd meeting, under this extreme duress-- instead of in a loving, welcoming, and nurturing environment.

We have reached out to the Archbishop Serratelli to request his assistance with this matter. We fear this merger will be a severe misstep and have asked that we please not let this happen to our Diocese, our thriving ASJM School, Parrish, and family.

We have an AMAZING ASJM School and Parrish—we are confident in this. We do not want our ASJM foundation to be ripped apart. We've asked to be engaged and helped by the Diocese with this incredibly critical predicament.

We have amazing support from our parents, and we are collecting signatures to demonstrate this. We always knew and appreciated the loyalty and devotion our parents, principal, teachers, Sisters, students and Parrish shared before this difficult time. The stress and anxiety imposed upon us these last few days has made that connection and commitment grow exponentially.

We believe strongly in our mission and vision:

•    To guide our students to grow in their faith, knowledge, and to be of service to others.

•    To develop communities that are Christ-centered, academically excellent, and welcoming, that enable students to be life-long learners and good citizens of the world.

•    To make our Catholic school institutions committed to academic rigor and the pursuit of excellence, holistic in their programs, economically, intellectually and culturally diverse, shaped by a culture of community and respect

•    To offer our children a quality education founded on gospel values.

We want support so we may continue to guide our students to grow in their faith, knowledge, and to be of service to others. Please help us save our ASJM Catholic school Principal,  teachers, and Sisters who are the lifeblood that runs through our school and who are in short supply.

In Christ,
Parents from The Academy of St. James of the Marches

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This petition made change with 636 supporters!

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