Bayside school may close – QNS.com

Bayside school may close

At a recent meeting with parents and school officials, it was announced American Martyrs School in Bayside may be closing this June. On Wednesday, January 25th, the Principal Barbara Kingston and Monsignor John Keppler abruptly informed parents that the school could be shutdown.
The meeting began innocently enough, with questions regarding a possible increase in tuition, how to raise more money for the school and its expenses. When asked why all the parents were asked to come to the meeting, the Monsignor informed them of the possible closing.
“It came out there was a possibility the school might not open in September, and it may close this June,” said Paul Battisti, who has two children in the school, and was on hand for the meeting. “The whole place just quieted down . . . It caught us off guard.”
The Monsignor said that the school, with its current enrollment of just 222, was $160,000 in debt, and that they would need 45 to 70 new students in addition to a substantial increase in tuition to keep the school doors open.
“They said we’ve seen a steady decline the past four years,” said Battisti’s wife, Sandra, who was surprised considering the school hasn’t advertised for new students. “If they saw this why haven’t we been advertising all along? It’s almost like they’re sabotaging us.”
Kingston said the Brooklyn-Queens Diocese has told them not to advertise this year nor accept any new enrollments. “Naturally, you’re not going to have a school if no new students are coming in,” Paul Battisti said.
No upcoming meetings have been scheduled involving parents. Kingston met with the Brooklyn-Queens Diocese last week, but details have yet to be released.
When four other Catholic Schools were closed last year, American Martyrs was never mentioned. Now, children who’ve attended the school for seven years, like Battisti’s son, Paul Jr., who is in the seventh grade, may have to start anew.
“No decision has been made, so there is nothing to say,” said one school official from American Martyrs, who preferred to remain anonymous. Monsignor Keppler, who recently retired, was unavailable for comment.
Repeated calls to Monsignor Michael Hardiman, the Vicar for Education, were not returned, while Kingston refused to comment or to be interviewed.
“I’m just hoping something can be done,” Sandra Battisti said. “Here it is February and we’re up in the air. They’re not keeping us up to speed.”

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