By Sadef Kully
After 58 years of serving the Astoria community, Most Precious Blood School will be closed permanently in June due to lack of financial resources to repair and continue the school. The announcement came as shock for parents, students, parish, alumni and community members.
Pastor William Krlis made the announcement in a letter released on the home page of the school’s website which explained that $2.55 million worth of repairs and a declining enrollment have not run the school into deficit but have made it unprofitable to continue operations.
“In 2008, we had 303 students and now we are looking at a total enrollment at 191. We have a slow but steady over the past few years. Our retention rate is under 40 percent. Our nursery and early pre-kindergarten are services we offer for the surrounding community, which is not included,” said Stephanie Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Diocese.
The school at 32-52 37th St. is under the purview of the Diocese, which is its financial and administrative arm.
“The enrollment decline was a well-known fact and there were efforts made from the pulpit to fund raise but it was not successful,” Gutierrez said.
But parents and supporters of the Most Precious Blood School tell a different story.
Michael Rosenberger, a 1992 alumnus of Most Precious Blood, said that many parents he was in contact with were surprised. It motivated him to rally and campaign using social media to help stop its closure.
“There was no information sent text messages to parents to check the school website. And that was it. And they never reached out to supporters of the school. At the pulpit, I know they have asked for funding for church repairs but nothing about the school,” said Rosenberger, who is a lawyer in Long Island. “The question is, if you have a school without a deficit, why wouldn’t you afford an opportunity to raise money?I question the $2 million repairs — the school is in working condition.
In response to the many questions community member have, a town hall meeting has been set up the school and the Brooklyn Diocese.
“ We have facilitated a school meeting and we will be there to take their questions, answer them honestly, and show transparency, which is something we have always done,” said Gutierrez.
Rosenberger also mentioned that many parents were hearing rumors and speculated that the school may have been leased out to the New York Department of Education, which has happened in the past with private schools in New York.
“If we can’t save this school,” he said, “thenmaybe we can save another Catholic school from closing.”