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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Parents hunt for new schools after closure

By Sarina Trangle

Jose Deleon thought he finally found a good fit for his fourth grader when he enrolled him at Our Lady of Angels this fall.

Now that Our Lady of Angels is slated to close, Mr. Deleon is deciding whether to start his son at Nicholas of Tolentine School, where he previously attended class, or to try sending him to public school.

Mr. Deleon said all the change has his son feeling like he’s on a roller coaster. “But there’s nothing I can do for him,” he said.

Families have been scrambling to register their children at nearby public and private schools since the archdiocese’s Northwest and South Bronx Board of Trustees announced it planned to close Our Lady of Angels after its graduation ceremony this June.

Some parents who were interviewed said were trying to gauge what other parochial schools’ enrollment will look like next year so that they could avoid both overcrowding and under enrollment.

They didn’t want to risk enrolling their children at schools where an influx of new students from Our Lady of Angels and other schools slated to close could lead to larger class sizes.

Nor did they want to enroll their children at schools with relatively low enrollment numbers, figuring that could lead to closure the same way it did for several school recently put on the chopping block by the archdiocese.

Msgr. John Jenik, a member of the Board of Trustees, said the organization planned to rely on St. Philip Neri. The school once educated about 800 students, but now educates about 250, which Msgr. Jenik noted left enough room for all 234 Our Lady of Angels students.

Space is more limited at the three other Catholic schools that Msgr. Jenik anticipated OLA students would be looking to attend.

Our Lady of Refuge School, where Msgr. Jenik works as the pastor, has about 285 students, which he said leaves room for 30 additional students. Nearly a dozen Our Lady of Angels families had picked up applications as of Feb. 7.

Visitation School’s roster of 185 can only handle a few more students, according to Msgr. Jenik. St. Nicholas of Tolentine School, which operates independently from the archdiocese, can accept up to 50 more students.

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