14 Schools to Close?
On Sunday, January 6 the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Sr. Elaine Poitras, the Diocese of Rochester’s superintendent of schools, had resigned effective immediately. A DOR spokesman said that the resignation was for “personal reasons.”
Far be it from me to question the veracity of the diocesan spokesman but I have to wonder if Sr. Elaine’s resignation might also have had something to do with a report due out any day now from the group of 23 individuals appointed by Bishop Clark a few months back “to explore ways we can preserve our long tradition of providing Catholic School education in the Diocese of Rochester.”
Rumor has it that the task force will recommend the closure of 14 of our current 24 schools, accompanied by the transfer of the students currently in those schools to the 10 buildings remaining open. The underlying idea would seem to be the minimizing of costs by the maximizing of building and staff utilization.
Given the fact that the bishop’s task force is heavily loaded with businesspeople, this recommendation would come as no surprise. In fact, the bishop seemed to go out of his way to avoid appointing any building administrators, teachers or parents to his task force, presumably to keep any emotional content out of the cold, hard, dollar-and-cents deliberations he was after.
The problem with that approach is that the school administrators, teachers and especially the parents are primary stakeholders in the DOR school system. History has shown time and again that when one excludes primary stakeholders from the decision-making process, disaster usually follows. It certainly did during the last round of school closings, when just 60% or so of the students in the affected buildings actually showed up at what were supposed to be their new schools the following fall.
But who knows, the bishop just might get lucky in spite of himself. I’m sure he’s praying. I know I am.