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Rally to save Bishop Ford High School

Bishop Ford faithful: Church acting out of greed in closure push

School’s out: Students and parents came out in force on April 28 to call on Bishop Ford High School administrators to keep the school open.
The Brooklyn Paper
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The closure of a beloved Windsor Terrace Catholic school will throw students for a loop for the unworthy cause of making the church a quick buck, parents, students, and alumni said at a rally in front of the place on Monday.

More than 300 demonstrators gathered in front of Bishop Ford High School during the afternoon to call on the Diocese of Brooklyn to walk back its plan to shutter the school in June. One schoolkid in attendance said that the move to shutter the place, announced just two weeks ago and first reported by this paper, is disrupting her planning for higher education.

“We were just starting to think about college,” said Guerley Denis, a junior at the school. “Now we have to figure out what high school we’ll be going to.”

The school’s principal Thomas Arria announced on April 14 that this will be the last year for the school, which has been open since 1962. In a statement, he cited declining enrollment numbers and income as reasons for the closing. The student rolls at Bishop Ford have shrunk from 1,347 to 499 in the past eight years, the statement said. And the school expected to have just 422 students next year. Now the diocese says it owes $1.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service in payroll taxes, not counting interest and penalties, as well as a $1 million loan from the church, and that various initiatives by the school to get above water, including an alumnia fund-raising drive, failed.

A charter school in the building, the Brooklyn Urban Garden School, will remain open indefinitely with a lease that could be extended until 2020. Parents of Bishop Ford students believe their school should also stay, even if it is in a diminished form.

“Why not let us be a small school?” said Cathleen Smith-Carrano, who graduated from Bishop Ford in 1981 and is mom to an 11th-grader. “It’s very disturbing. Catholic education is just not being supported.”

Sierra Quinones, also a junior, attended Bishop Ford during her freshman year, but her family moved from Fifth Avenue to Staten Island, and she enrolled at a public high school. Her mother then got sick and passed away and Quinones felt a deep need to return to the school where she felt most at home.

“For me to heal, I had to come back here,” she said. “All of my friends are here. It really helped me.”

She came back for her junior year, but now the school could close before she graduates.

“I’m so upset,” Quinones said. “Plus we have to stress about finding another school.”

The rally’s organizer Frank Marra, class of 1973, says the church is more interested in making money than providing education.

“It’s a land grab,” said Marra, noting the school’s prime location near Green-Wood Cemetery. “The diocese is just interested in making money.”

A faculty member, who asked not to be named, backed Marra up.

“I’ve never seen a Catholic institution be so greedy,” the worker said. “The church is supposed to be about serving the community. They just want to take away. That’s not Christ-like.”

The group plans to present the diocese with an alternative plan that involves outside fund-raising as soon as they can arrange a meeting.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

diehipster from Slapping Soyboys says:
Beer garden deeeeeeeeeeeed!
April 29, 2014, 8:41 am
The Chooch from The Age of Reason says:
Jerome, these are real Brooklynites and they need respect at a time like this. Your obsession with hipsters is not relevant here.

“It’s very disturbing. Catholic education is just not being supported,” says Cathleen Smith-Carrano.

With respect, I hope the community around Bishop Ford High School will become atheists, turn a new page in life, and look elsewhere for the support for this school that it needs and deserves.

We are indebted to the Church for the many fine schools and universities it has given to the world. Religion has given much to the world in education and the arts. But our society is no longer in need of the false comforts extended by the Church.

The core beliefs that are espoused by religions have become a hindrance and in many cases are counterproductive. Today they cast a pall of sadness over the world.

We are able now to learn and to create without these false and unsubstantiated beliefs. And more, we can live immensely fulfilling and deeply moral and humanitarian lives without these ancient creeds.
April 29, 2014, 10:27 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
well at least the charter schools could buy up the real estate.
But in terms of Catholic education, I have mixed feelings considering I am of that.
April 29, 2014, 12:13 pm
Jacks Son from Bay Ridge says:
Why would anyone be surprised that the Diocese would put profit above education ? If one has been reading the voice of the Diocese, The Tablet, and their editorials, it is consistent with their right- wing- nut political , social, and economic views. They are the antithesis of 20th Century Catholic struggles! Anti-workers rights (endorsement of the Heritage Foundation), anti-environmental stewardship (endorsement of Canadian Keystone Pipeline and fracking), calling the Repub Gov't shutdown that cost 24 billion dollars a "soap opera" while cutting 24 billion dollars to the SNAP program which helps feed the most vulnerable Americans who are mostly seniors, children, and the sick. The Editor rants against a strong central Gov't and suggests in one As The Tablet Sees It editorial that "perhaps the most efficient form of government is a dictatorship"(Speaking Truth to Power 11/02/13). He even quotes Thomas Jefferson ,"I am not a friend to a very energetic government, it is always oppressive". He makes no mention of what Jefferson labeled "our moneyed corporations" and their inherently abusive concentrations of power. He goes on to say that our freedom is God-given which is laughable. Our Founding Fathers and the American Colonials "fought" for Our freedom from England, and many times after. These battles were not just on the battlefield ,but on picket lines and Freedom Marches for workers rights,civil rights, and the general health and welfare of we Americans. The Tablet,in my opinion , is in support of a New Gilded Age corporate plutocracy,and pro-life morphs into pro-corporate.Protect the unborn,but to hell with the living! Our Holy Father Pope Francis has been a forceful moral voice against the "idolatry of money" and the "new tyranny" of unfettered capitalism. FDR in the State of the Union Address of 1944 stated,"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made". Or, a new corporatacrcy? A new feudal system,perhaps,where the Church affirmed Divine Right to the kings and lords? Thank God for Pope Francis as he would decry these systems! As for the Diocese, I believe their attitude is "hey, a bucks a buck". I pray our Holy Father gets wind of this outrage. But, then again, Tablet endorsed Heritage Foundation one time man of the Year rush limbaugh labeled Pope Francis a commie.
April 29, 2014, 3 pm
JAY from NYC says:
Ummm so lets think about this, the Catholic Church, its officials, and priests raped children and then went to extreme lengths to protect the child rapists and cover it up and still have not dealt with the problems, and then they wonder why people don't want to send their kids to a Catholic school? Seems like a pretty obvious correlation to me.
April 29, 2014, 5:56 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
It's the tuition, Jay. With more lay (that's means they are not nuns or brothers, not what you're thinking) teaching staff the tuition charges are very high compared to years ago.
April 29, 2014, 7:12 pm
The Chooch from The Age of Reason says:
Oh it's "the tuition" that's killing Bishop Ford. Really. You don't think it's the elephant in the room? That is, the rapidly declining popularity of religion.
April 29, 2014, 11:40 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
Religious institutions can't run on prayer and nostalgia. Like any "businesses" they have to face up to change and cover their assets. But I swear -- every time some church, religious school, etc. tries to face reality, protesters scream "land grab!" and think they can solve the problem via bake sales.
April 30, 2014, 12:56 am
Unknown from Park Slope says:
All they need to do is come up with the 2m that they owe in debt...

If 3000 people get together and contribute $670 that will equal the $2,000,000 in debt that they owe. This will probably help keep the school open.. But to be honest, yes tuition is a problem.. With inflation at a 3% average; materials, renovations, employee salaries, etc... keep going up, and because of that tuition will keep rising, making it harder to enroll more students...

The economy is not in the best shape and families are not trying to spend the money to send their kids to a catholic high school, i mean it is already bad enough that college tuition is rising through the roof! It is also bad enough that families aren't properly investing money (They are sticking their money in college plans/savings accounts at 1% or less... instead of a moderate growth mutual funds that have a 9% rate of return) so a lot of these kids will not get the proper education.

I personally love this school, but keeping it open is going to be a challenge, i hope for the best... I hope our efforts will be successful.
April 30, 2014, 11:39 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Yes, it is the tuition. I went to Catholic high school in the 1970's and maybe one person was there because of the religious instruction -- the one who became a nun. For the rest of us the attraction was a nice, safe school. My first year the annual tuition was $300. Now the same school will be charging $9,200 for the 2014-15 year.
April 30, 2014, 2:05 pm
jay from nyc says:
I would not care if it was free, or if you paid me, I would not send my kid to a Catholic school run by the Catholic church that raped children for decades and then went to extremes to protect child rapists, including the two new "saints" that just got created who presided over these horrors. This place can't close fast enough.
May 1, 2014, 7:12 pm
Jacks Son from Bay Ridge says:
Ed, that's the problem, everything is now based on the "business" model. I attended Catholic School for 12 years and my union worker Father was able to afford it with a little sacrifice, as did most of the working class students who I attended school with. No, not a "bake sale", but an increase in wages that have remained stagnant for decades. So, nostalgia for a more just economic system should be the goal of the Catholic Church,and not anti-worker policies that the Church in America seems to support as evidenced in Tablet editorials. The Church was once a champion of workers rights,but has drifted so far right that it seems like they would name a school St Ayn Rand Academy. God bless Pope Francis and His Papacy! Holy Father,please read them the riot act!
May 2, 2014, 11:23 am

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