YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- Could two Catholic elementary schools in York County close next year? The Harrisburg Catholic Diocese isn't saying much about the possibility.
Fox 43 spoke with a concerned parent who has been rallying with other parents to prevent any closures.
On October 31st, the Committee to Strengthen and Sustain Catholic Education, or SASCE, in the York Deanery of the Diocese of Harrisburg, held a town hall meeting for teachers, parents, and students to discuss and receive feedback on a proposed consolidation of the Deanery's Catholic schools. The proposal came from a two-year study. One of the parents who attended that meeting was Danielle. Her second-grade son attends St. Joesph's in Dallastown.
“We had an inkling that we might be on the chopping block when they pitched their proposal,” Danielle said. “We in fact were one of the two schools that they were thinking of closing."
The other one, she said, was St. Rose of Lima in York, leaving parents to choose between St. Joe's of York, St. Pat's, and St. John the Baptist.
“I’m upset because there's no place else like St. Joe's in Dallastown,” Danielle said. “Every child matters, and I know my son matters there."
And Danielle said, no one knew. She claimed that they were told just two years ago that the school was in financial trouble, and that they were told no other details. Fox 43 asked the Diocese of Harrisburg about it. In their statement to us, they make no mention of specific schools, only saying in part, “The proposed recommendations within this study are preliminary and were presented as a means to gather feedback. No decisions have been made regarding the consolidation of any Catholic schools."
“I’m sorry, you've collected my tuition for the last 5 years,” Danielle said. “He's been there since he was three. Yeah, you need to answer for something.”
Danielle gave Fox 43 a copy of the York Deanery School study report, which showed a bunch of charts, numbers, and graphs. We sent the Diocese another email, asking for clarification. Again; another statement. This time saying, “Based on the feedback provided during and after the town hall meeting, the SASCE Committee has decided it will not submit any recommendations to the diocese for the 2019-20 school year."
“Our priest, can still go to the Bishop and say, ‘I’m proposing to close our school.’ The Bishop then makes the final decision,” Danielle said. “And from what we heard last night, we need $300,000 to prevent that from happening next year."
$300,000 by the end of this year, she said. Fox 43 sent an email to that priest asking if that were the case. He did not respond. Now parents are working on their own proposal of sustainability, doing everything they can to raise the money and keep their doors open.
The parents have been asking to meet with the school board, finance committee, and other parish leaders.
If you'd like to donate to help St. Joes in Dallastown reach their goal, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.