Tonawanda News

The City

January 17, 2014


Staff, parents angered by St. Francis of Assisi School closure


Tonawanda News — In announcing Wednesday the 10 schools slated for closure, Bishop Richard Malone, Carol Kostyniak, secretary for Catholic education for the diocese and Sister Carol Cimino, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, cited a number of factors that were examined, including declining enrollment numbers, the number of infant baptisms in each area, public school enrollments, the distance to the next closest Catholic school and many other factors.

But many of those of associated with St. Francis of Assisi have a number of questions and concerns about elements of the decision and its results.

Confusing the Tonawandas?

One of those is about the identity of the school as a “Twin Cities” Catholic school, the last one in North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda. Politowski and Lopardi said diocese documents (including the press release sent out on the closures) list the school as being in simply “Tonawanda” — although diocesan officials have repeatedly been told that it’s not in the Town of Tonawanda or Kenmore. 

And Twin Cities parents — whether from NT or the City of Tonawanda — all said they identify far more with the other respective city than they do with the town.

Carolyn Gorski, who has sons in fifth and eighth grades, said it’s a major oversight by the diocese.

“Don’t lie. Say it like it is. You’re saying to the Twin Cities, ‘screw you, we don’t care about your 50,000 people,’ “ she said. “There is no Catholic school for the Twin Cities. When you look at the City of Tonawanda, you have to look at North Tonawanda. Why would you thumb your nose at the cities and keep four schools in the town?”

NT and the City of Tonawanda had about 46,000 people as of the 2010 census, while the Town of Tonawanda had about 73,000 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. However, while there will be no more Catholic schools in NT or the city after this school year, four other Catholic schools in the town will remain open, a fact that doesn’t sit well with Gorski and others.

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