Tonawanda News

The City

January 24, 2014

St. Francis officials vow to keep school open


Tonawanda News — Saltarelli said he has written four letters to Malone and has sent a Canon Law petition protesting the decision. As of Thursday night, Malone has not responded.

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.”

The petition also 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 transportation problems and other criteria.

Saltarelli said the bishop has 30 days to respond to the petition. The document also alerts the bishop that St. Francis will continue to accept registrations for the next school year. 

Saltarelli stressed that registering children at the school is necessary in order to keep St. Francis open. Interim Principal Louise Lopardi said the registration fee will be refunded if the plan to keep the school open does not work. Parents can also register their children and pay the fee later.

“I’m pretty emotional about this, because I’ve been in Catholic education for 45 plus years,” she said. “But here, it’s business as usual, and we are keeping the children engaged in learning.”

Rev. Mike Uebler called Thursday’s meeting, and delivered an emotional speech in which he pledged to be there for the students “no matter what.” His comments left many in the audience in tears.

“I’’m not a lawyer, I’m not a politician, I’m not any of that ... but I want you to know we are always looking out for the best for your kids,” he said. “We are a great community, we are going to continue to be a great community, and I know God is going to help.”

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