[UPDATE]Father Higgins: Goal is to Make Remaining Months Best Possible for Assumption Students

The Assumption School is one of 22 schools the Archdiocese of New York announced is closing. The school would have needed to raise $3 million in the next three years to stay open, according to church officials.

Update, 6:30 p.m.: The parents, teachers and staff members at the Assumption School banded together, prayed and worked collectively to come up with a way to keep their school open.

But the financial burden, $3 million in the next three years, was just too much to overcome.

"That's not bake sales and car washes, that's Powerball," Father John Higgins of the Church of the Assumption said.

Higgins said the plan is to help students make it through the year despite the obvious distractions they'll face.

"Our goal is to make the remaining months for these kids the best possible experience it can be for them," Higgins said.

Of the 26 schools listed as at-risk, 22 are slated to closed at the end of the school year. The four remaining schools were given submitted proposals that included viable long-term plans and will remain open.

The last time the Archdiocese of New York decided to reconfigure its schools in 2010-2011, it managed to relocate 64 percent of its students to another school, according to Fran Davies, associate superintendent for communications and marketing for the Archdiocese.

Affected families will be allowed to transition into nearby school districts. Nearby options for Assumption School students include St. Augustine's School in Ossining; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School  in Shrub OakSt. Patrick's School in Yorktown; and St. Columbanus School in Cortandt Manor.

Student placement counselors will work with regional superintendents to help school families transition into another Catholic school for next year, according to a release sent by the Archdiocese of New York. Informational meetings for affected families will be announced in the coming weeks.

Still, there are other issues to consider, such as busing.

"We both work," said one shocked mother as she picked her child up from school. "We live in Peekskill and are homeowners. We pay taxes… I'm very surprised."

Davies said all teachers who are tenured will be placed a priority hiring list based on seniority, as stipulated in the teacher's current collective bargaining unit.

Other Catholic elementary schools that are slated to close in June include Holy Name of Jesus in Valhalla, Our Lady of Fatima in Scarsdale, St. Casimir in Yonkers and St. Theresa in Briarcliff Manor.

In addition to the elementary schools, the Archdiocese announced that Blessed Sacrament/St. Gabriel High School in New Rochelle is one of the two secondary schools that it plans to close this year.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said the following is statement: “The Archdiocese is not alone in facing financial challenges in education—we share these issues with public, private and other faith-based schools across the country. This reconfiguration process will help ensure that our schools will be financially stable, sustainable and, more importantly, open to all students. We are dedicated to providing pastoral support and educational guidance to every family personally affected by reconfiguration to ensure all children attending closing schools will be warmly welcomed into a neighboring Catholic school where they will continue to learn and thrive.”


The Assumption School in Peekskill is closing at the end of this school year the Archdiocese of New York announced this afternoon.

Assumption, which has about 200 students, is one of 26 Catholic elementary schools that the Archdiocese announced in November were at risk of closing.

Pastors and principals at Assumption and other at-risk elementary schools met with officials from the Archdiocese earlier this month to make a case for why the school should remain open. In the end, it wasn't enough.

In a letter sent out parents earlier today, Father John Higgins of the Church of the Assumption said the school had to demonstrate the ability to stay financially solvent during the next three years in order to continue operating.

"In terms of dollars, that means $3 million over the next three years," Higgins wrote. "Though there were many beautiful gestures to help, symbolic donations made and ideas proposed, $3 million dollars is a financial hurdle that is impossible for us to surmount."

Check back for more on this story as it becomes available.

sayitsnotsojack January 22, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Pity the students they will have to attend Peekskill schools, but not to worry it seems you can recieve credit for courses that do not exist and still graduate.
theobserver January 22, 2013 at 09:14 PM
The loss of Peekskills Assumption School is a great loss to our children who desire a Catholic education, a great loss to its alumni, and most of all a great loss to Father Higgins who has spent an inordinate amount of time over the last years in an uphill battle with prayer, fundraisers, and meetings with the Arch Diocese to keep the school open. There are many reasons for its closure aside from tuition payments, endowments, fundraising efforts, the state of the economy, etc. and probably many other reasons. In the short term, I am sure our children will find other avenues to persue for a Catholic education and in the long term there is always the hope that Assumption School will re open its doors.
Spruce Bringsteen January 22, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Sad story. Father Higgins is a good guy. Whenever he sees me waiting for someone in the narthex, he always says hi and blesses me. I also dig Father Vernon. He's got a cool sense of humor.
joshua tanner January 22, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Sad to see it go. Now with NY being second most expensive in nation (after Washington DC) as far as per student cost ($18,500) 200 students would cost almost another 4 million a year if they all went public.That's almost a quarter mil a student over 12 grades.
Frank a Catalina January 22, 2013 at 09:53 PM
well, while this was expected, its still very very sad. i went there K-8 graduated in 1971. i was an altar boy there....seemed i always got the 7am masses because i lived 2 blocks from the church... fr ansbro has been a rock in my life all of my life! i learned so much about life there and from him, sisters imelda; theodore, germaine, and on and on. how many people remember anita creame teaching second grade before opening the sub galley; or vinny burrano teaching sixth grade (i think) before going on to become a superstar principal and administrator; even domenic bertoline taught there (unless my memory is totally shot) before joining his family business as exclusive distributors of budweiser... and look at the empire he created in his years there - the sheer number of good solid jobs. there are countless people who, if they didnt work there, got their start there and, if the truth be known, went on to live good productive lives from the simple rules and decency taught there. father ansbro officiated at my wedding and gave me life saving counsel when i lost my wife to cancer. for me, its been a lifelong relationship with Lady of the Assumption. i will miss the laughter of the uniformed children, the sounds of the bells; the lines formed to enter the building and thank God that Asssumption was a big part of my life.
Ray Adamick January 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Good for you Terence!
Alena Radtke Radtke January 23, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Make some calls try to get donations.
Alena Radtke Radtke January 23, 2013 at 12:40 AM
We need to help the Pope. Get active, pray and try to raise money. Our Lady will guide.
Alena Radtke Radtke January 23, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Our Lady may come through. See if Pete Seeger crew will do a fundraiser. The keyboard player in the Parent's video for Assumption could add a Latin Beat. Come on Pete help out.
Alena Radtke Radtke January 23, 2013 at 12:43 AM
I will keep praying. In such an art town, Assumption should stay open. Ask businesses to donate.
Alena Radtke Radtke January 23, 2013 at 12:45 AM
Let's get alumni donors.
Alena Radtke Radtke January 23, 2013 at 12:45 AM
Who is Terence?
patricia modica January 23, 2013 at 12:54 AM
sad sad sad....and Obama claps his hands.....sad sad sad...
chinchalu January 23, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Dont blame obama. Blame the pope who has used your money to have all this security. If he truly were a man of God he should not fear.also spending money to walk around with a ridicules hat and staff. Jesus was a simple man. Did he not tell the Apostles to leave their things and follow him? Jesus was simple man. He came tl save the lost.the pope has the people lost. No home for the children to learn GOD's word. Think About it.
Wendy Kelly January 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM
Didn't go to Assumption but hear wonderful tributes to the teachers that taught.
Carol Hamel January 23, 2013 at 01:08 PM
how could it cost 3 Mil. to educate 200 kids? We have the most enthusiastic Priests and Parents and the Church is starting to fill up again for Sunday Masses. We really don't deserve to lose our school. It looks like the Church (Archdiocese) just wants to opt out of dealing with schools. Big mistake!
Patty Villanova January 23, 2013 at 01:13 PM
I too went to Assumption many years ago, before Columbanus opened. That was when Peekskill was a bustling, prosperous retail center. Things sure have changed, and not for the better. All the blame for this school closure lies squarely at the feet of the Cardinal and the Archdiocese and the whole Roman Catholic hierarchy. They've become more like a multi-national corporation than a religious organization and they are so foolish as to destroy any hope they have for growing the Catholic church over the next generations. They have plenty of money, yet they refuse to invest it in the most basic, fundamental needs of their congregation. So what's going to happen to the property? Condos? Or maybe another Islamic center like the one that took over Ladycliff/ Franciscan in Mohengan. Think it's far fetched? Well think again. Take a look at what' happening in Europe, especially France and England. Think it can't happen here?
Kirsten Berger January 23, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Good luck to all of you. I never went to Catholic school and my kids go to public school, but I understand the need and benefits of a Catholic education. To the Assumption parents: if you end up sending your kids to the Peekskill schools, don't listen to the negative posts. The schools aren't as bad as people are saying.
black girl January 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Your money went to defend your priests. And btw, the election is over.
joshua tanner January 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM
The 3 mil was over 3 years. 1 million a year divided by 200 is $5000 per student which is about what tuition was I believe
JM January 23, 2013 at 04:05 PM
black girl - so, so true.
Ray Adamick January 23, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Terence was the first comment! Black girl, what election?
joshua tanner January 23, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Abuse rate is actually much higher in public schools.. "In accordance with a requirement of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, in 2002 the Department of Education carried out a study of sexual abuse in the school system. Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church. "[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?" she said. "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests." Has Media Ignored Sex Abuse In School? http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-215_162-1933687.html
Carol Hamel January 23, 2013 at 05:07 PM
see how people leave nasty comments when they don't use their names? how about it Black Girl? who are you? and how about it Patch? no anonymous letters!
Rexford Tugwell, III January 23, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Plato's Academy was really nothing more than an olive grove. He and his students just walked around in togas and exchanged ideas. Maybe we should go back to imparting knowledge that way. Much cheaper.
bruiser January 23, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Carol just a word of advice, be careful how you use your name. Avoid using your full name. Even a nickname could spell trouble, if it's a name you already use with others who know your real identity, or if it's made up from your real name say from your initials. These days, many people do use their full names for online posting or on social media sites and blogs. Just know that in doing so you're raising the risk of becoming an identity theft victim.Just my opinion and some sound advice from a good friend who is a computer nerd.
JM January 23, 2013 at 09:33 PM
joshua tanner, I can only find stories citing ''billions'' of dollars paid out in claims to victims of pedophile priests -- just in the U.S. I was willing to just say $1B off the top of my head, but that must be underestimating the gravity of payouts. And not including bribes to keep quiet. Nonetheless, even my low ball $1B would have gone far in keeping these schools open. Thus, black girl is 100% correct when she typed what she did. Secondly, please show us links to all the public school districts in the U.S. that have actively, purposely and in collusion with the entire board of education, ''gone out of their way'' to hide pedophile teachers and/or administrators... move them to other districts in other states (or countries) and did so without informing authorities or the families where those same ped teachers would be in charge of a new round of children. Such activity is perhaps reserved for religious institutions, and maybe the Boy Scouts, too.
johndough January 23, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I think Fr, Higgins did everything humanly possible to keep the school open. The problem is he...and all those other 'at-risk' pastors...were up against a stacked deck. The Archdiocese had no intention whatsoever to keep the doors open...that review process was a total farce...they wanted to decrease their subsidies. Pretty revealing look into their real purpose...they tell you Aborting your child a Sin...but apparently Evicting them is Ok! They say they need the money for 'the poor'...really...what about the poor here!? Fact of the matter is this Cardinal...and his boy Dr. McNiff are as crooked as they come...nobody respects or trusts them. They used as kids as political footballs to get NYS to give them more money for education...Dolan had an opportunity to make a difference...to be the Man who Saved our Schools! And he failed us...it's time Catholics step up to the plate and let him know that.
johndough January 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM
...and BTW...that Cardinals Appeal...two options as I see it. 1) Tear it up and throw it out...2) Where they ask you how much you'd like to DONATE...just write GO F--K YOURSELF!
Joe Shmoe February 21, 2013 at 07:06 AM
show me a cause I'll show you a statistic. What is the ratio of abuse by catholic priests per population then the population of public schools vs. the abuse? Lets not forget also that not all of the abuse occurred in catholic schools. The book "Vows of Silence" highlight the issue, how it was and more so how it wasn't handled and the financial impact it had on the church. Sad sad sad.


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