2006-04-07 / Front Page

St. Virgilius School Gets 3-Week Reprieve

By Howard Schwach


More than 250 St. Virgilius School parents and students were joined by community activists to protest the closing of the school last week. Their protests were heard by the Brooklyn Diocese, which granted an extension until April 28 for the school to achieve an enrollment of 113 students. More than 250 St. Virgilius School parents and students were joined by community activists to protest the closing of the school last week. Their protests were heard by the Brooklyn Diocese, which granted an extension until April 28 for the school to achieve an enrollment of 113 students. The St. Virgilius School in Broad Channel was granted a three-week extension to meet the quota of students for September that it agreed to in its business plan last year, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Diocese told The Wave on Wednesday.

"We have granted the school an extension until April 28," Frank DeRosa, a long-time spokesperson for the diocese said. "There has not yet been a discussion of what will happen should the school not sign up the required number of students."

The time extension comes in the wake of a demonstration last week at which 250 parents and community activists asked for the extension to prove that it could keep to its plan.

The diocese had said that it would close the school on April 1 if it did not have 113 students signed up for the September term.

Anne Marie Sullivan, a parent association officer told The Wave on Wednesday that 91 students had already signed up and that the 113 number was "doable" given the extra time.

"They have to give us a chance, because we have done everything they have asked of us," Sullivan said. "the only reason the school is in danger of closing is numbers. People are afraid to take their children from another school and enroll them here because of the threat of closing. We are caught in the middle."

The diocese approved the school's business plan in March of last year after St. Virgilius was placed on a list of schools to be closed or reorganized last June due to poor enrollment.

St. Virgilius was one of only three schools that were allowed to stay open from that list.

After the decision to keep the school open was made, the school's Business Plan Committee was officially disbanded by the diocese, replaced by an advisory board made up of people appointed by the bishop.

Some parent leaders charge that the diocese tied the hands of that committee because it was forbidden to advertise for students, to fundraise or to start a profitable Universal Pre-K program at the school.

The parent leaders who spoke at last week's rally asked for a 30-day extension to procure more students and a three-year moratorium on closing the school.

"How can we draw students from other areas to this school when the Diocese keeps saying that its going to be closed," one parent asked. "We have to be able to tell parents that their kids have a seat in a school that will remain open."

DeRosa said that there will be no discussion on the ramifications of not meeting the student enrollment goal until the time extension has passed.

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