Monday, June 2, 2003

Catholic high school vows to stay open

Last year, Archbishop John J. Myers pledged a decreasing subsidy of $500,000 to the school over three years with the understanding that the school would find a way to become self-sufficient by the 2005-06 academic year.But a spokesman for the archdiocese said last week that the school's bills for the current academic year already exceeded the $500,000 intended for three years."There was no possibility in the endgame where the school could keep operating," said the spokesman, James Goodness. "Their actual needs far exceeded what we had set aside."

Now, a group calling itself Save Bishop Francis Essex Catholic has begun fund-raising efforts in an attempt to save the all-male school, which has been an attractive alternative to public school for many black and Hispanic students in this working-class suburb of Newark.Stung by the archdiocese's change of heart, the group has struck a defiant tone, palpable last Friday at the school's graduation ceremonies. "With the archdiocese's support or without the archdiocese's support, Bishop Francis Essex Catholic High School will live on," the dean of students, Amod Field, said in a speech to the graduates.He said that the school would reopen in September and that a local real estate developer had pledged to buy or lease the campus from the archdiocese and turn it over to the school.