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Parents, Students Rally To Keep South Bronx Catholic School Open

St. Jerome Closing Protest

Parents and students protest against the proposed closing of St. Jerome School in the South Bronx. (Credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Roman Catholic school in the South Bronx that has been in operation for more than 100 years could close come 2013.

As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, on Sunday, parents and students made a plea to Timothy Cardinal Dolan to keep the doors open at St. Jerome School, at 222 Alexander Ave. in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

The protesters gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown.

“I’ve been at St. Jerome since pre-K, and I don’t want it to close,” said Jazmin Estrada.

Jazmin broke down in tears as she thought about her school closing.

“St. Jerome isn’t really our school,” she said. “It’s our home, and our friends are like our family.”

The school is one of about 26 Catholic schools that the Archdiocese of New York said are at risk of closing in 2013.

“We are trying to set a strong foundation for our children like everywhere else in New York City, so why should our children in the South Bronx be given anything different?” said Mychal Johnson, a parent at the school.

The concerned parents accused the Archdiocese of threatening to close the financially struggling school so it can make money off the real estate.

“This is a policy that’s only interested in saving money; renting out the property to charter schools or selling the property,” said parent Kelvin Ramirez.

But the Archdiocese denied the claim. In a statement, Archdiocese schools Supt. Dr. Timothy J. McNiff said the plan to close the schools is designed to “improve the fiscal health of the archdiocese” and “ensure that all [its] schools remain financially stable and more importantly, open to all students.”

Parents are asking the Archdiocese for time, and said they would even head up the fundraising efforts so they can help get the school the money it needs to stay open.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said the 26 schools are due to submit plans detailing why they should remain open. Local committees will review the plans before final decisions are made.

Do you think the school should be kept open? Please leave your comments below…