Tonawanda News — St. Francis parishioners have sent a Canon Law appeal to two branches of the Roman Curia following Bishop Richard Malone’s refusal to reconsider the impending closure of the City of Tonawanda school.
“The ‘strategic plan’ of the Catholic Education Department of the diocese is not strengthening Catholic education but rather crippling it,” a press release from attorney Mark Saltarelli, who sent the appeal, reads.
The appeal, which asks for the reversal of Malone’s decision to close the school, includes a long list of reasons to keep St. Francis open. The document also includes copies of politicians’ letters that were sent to the bishop asking for his recommendation, and resolutions passed by the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda councils in support of the school remaining open.
The appeal notes that St. Francis is the largest of the 10 schools slated for closure, and it is the only Catholic elementary institution in the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.
“It is also the only school which demonstrated an increased enrollment since the year 2003,” the appeal states. “The school is also blessed with a $500,000 endowment fund which generates $35,000 per year for various school projects.”
If the school closes, transportation will also be a problem, as the two cities do not bus out of district and parents would need to transport their children to other Catholic schools. The tuition at the other nearby schools is also higher than the cost at St. Francis.
“We also have a moral obligation to keep this school open to assist the poor within our community,” the appeal states. “Of the 129 families who have children in our school, 48 families or 37 percent receive tuition assistance.”
Community members have been protesting the closing since the bishop announced plans to shutdown 10 elementary schools as part of a revitalization plan on Jan. 15. Despite the diocese’s plans, the school, located at 70 Adam St., is registering children for next year and is holding an open house from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.