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[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.”

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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.

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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