YONKERS, N.Y. – Parents at St. Casimir School said they are devastated and shocked after learning the Yonkers parochial school is in danger of being shuttered at the end of the year.
“It’s a heart-wrenching feeling,” Nikita Lewis said Tuesday as she waited to pick up her third grade daughter. “This school is like a family. It’s very sad.”
The 109-year-old school on Nepperhan Avenue was designated as “at risk” of closing Monday by the Archdiocese of New York.
It is one of 26 parochial schools in the area targeted as part of a consolidation effort brought on by a combination of declining enrollment and lack of revenue. Four other schools in Westchester were named, including Holy Name of Jesus School in Valhalla, Our Lady of Fatima School in Scarsdale, St. Theresa School in Briarcliff Manor and Our Lady of the Assumption School in Peekskill.
“These are difficult, but necessary, decisions and, working together, we will ensure that our Catholic elementary schools are stronger than ever,” Superintendent of Schools Timothy McNiff said in a statement.
The selections of schools considered “at-risk” was made after an evaluation process involving school boards and a reconfiguration committee. A final decision on whether St. Casimir will survive the effort is expected in January.
In the meantime, school pastors and the principal are expected to meet with members of the local board or Reconfiguration Committee in the near future to find out why the school was named to the list. School leaders will also be given a chance to come up with a long-term financial plan to convince the archdiocese to allow the school to remain open.
By Tuesday morning, a “Save St. Casimir School” Facebook page had been created and parents and community members were showing their support.
“As a fellow alumni, I speak on behalf of all us in shock today to see our school be put on the list of "At-Risk" schools,” Michael Ulanski wrote.
Cindy Pramann agreed, adding she was devastated to learn St. Casimir had been added to the list. Now she and parents of more than 230 other students are faced with the possibility their children may be attending a different school next year.
“I had no plans to send him to another school but come January we might have to be looking,” Pramann said.
Still, some parents said they had been hearing the rumors of St. Casimir’s closing for years and weren’t convinced it would be shuttered.
“This church and this school are so strong, I would be surprised if it does close,” Jennilee Stokes said.