Tonawanda News

Local News

January 22, 2014

St. Francis gears up for fight

BACKLASH: Petition sent to bishop, meeting planned for Thursday at school.

Tonawanda News — A week after the Diocese of Buffalo announced plans to close 10 Catholic elementary schools — including St. Francis of Assisi in the City of Tonawanda — supporters of the school are not going quietly.

In fact, they don’t intend to go at all.

A meeting is planned for Thursday evening at the school, North Tonawanda and Tonawanda common councils and the Niagara County Legislature passed resolutions in support of the school Tuesday evening, a Facebook page opposing the decision has more than 1,800 members — and, most recently, a petition under church canon law has been sent to the bishop asking him to reconsider the closure of St. Francis School.

Mark Saltarelli, an alumnus of the school, member of its endowment board and father of St. Francis graduates, sent the petition to Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo on Tuesday.

Saltarelli, Mark Warren and Linda Carlson, all three City of Tonawanda residents and parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, are named on the petition, which invokes canon law dealing with “recourse against administrative decrees.”

The petition claims “that the demographic data and criteria used by the Diocese of Buffalo to evaluate a school such as St. Francis of Assisi School is seriously flawed in that it only took into account data from St. Francis of Assisi Church and the City of Tonawanda, excluding all other churches and data from the City of North Tonawanda” and cites the size of the school, its increasing enrollment, the community it serves, the “healthy and supportive” alumni community, the endowment fund, the school’s financial health, the busing issues and other criteria in support.

Saltarelli said the bishop has 30 days to respond to the petition before any further action on the part of the school. In the meantime, the petition asks that enforcement of the decision be suspended and alerts the bishop that St. Francis will continue to accept registrations for the next school year.

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