Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Payback Time

Last winter after Bishop Clark announced he was closing 13 Monroe County Catholic schools, parents and others involved with 6 of them decided they would make an attempt to keep their schools open. Save-our-school committees were formed and educational and financial plans were developed that would have allowed each of them to operate independently of the diocese.

But the bishop still said no. As he wrote in what others have described as a form letter, "despite the helpful information provided, the exciting proposals presented and the heartfelt pleas of your people, I must continue to recommend the closing of [insert school name here] this June for the good of the whole."

Now it looks like their efforts have earned these 6 parishes a little "reward" in the form of increased average CMA assessments for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The 2008-09 CMA assessments for each parish in the diocese are now posted on dor.org. The spreadsheet below lists those assessments, as well as the assessments for last year, for each of the 12 parishes still in existence that have lost their schools.

It turns out that the 6 parishes that tried to save their schools have seen their 2008-09 CMA assessments increase by an average of $2,304, or 2.8%, while the 6 parishes that did not are enjoying an average reduction of $1,025, or 2.3%.

But what about the parishes whose schools were not closed? Well it sure looks like DOR has decided they can't afford to pay much more.

Pay-Back Open Schools

The 11 parishes whose schools have remained open have seen just a mere $600, or 0.6%, increase in their average CMA assessment. It is true that DOR has cut back on its payments to parishes with schools, so perhaps this relatively small increase is justified.

Each of the other 12 parishes, however, still has an empty building that needs to be heated and maintained and that is bringing in little or no revenue. Why are some of these parishes seeing a reduction in their average assessments while the others - those who, in effect, protested the bishop's decision - seeing a significant increase?

Is DOR trying to teach us a lesson here?

[Note: This is the second version of this post. As Dr. K. notes in a comment below, I had originally overlooked St. John the Evangelist's efforts to save their school in the original version. This correction alters the averages somewhat, but the big picture remains unchanged.]


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Mike said...

Nice catch, Dr. K. Corrections made and update posted.

Anonymous said...

There was a small group at St. John in Spencerport who wished to save the school, but their parish was not behind them at all. Maybe that's why they weren't punished.
I think the bishop saw the amount of money pledged to save the schools and is trying to get his hands on it, as I predicted from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the parishes are going to be the ones hurt the most by this. Parishoners are vehemently opposed to participating in the CMA this year due to 1) School Closings and 2) Liturgical Abuses. I for one will not be contributing. The DOR will get it's money by forcing the parishes to make up the difference anyway. If by chance, the goal is not met and the parishes or DOR can't or won't make up the difference, the DOR will spin it by saying the economy was the reason. The readers of the Dem and Chronicle will believe it, but Catholics will know the real cause. And when the economy slows and we have to tighten our belts, contributions to the church are usually the last area Catholics will trim from their budgets.

Mike said...

Anon. 12:39,

I also will not be contributing to the CMA. As you imply, however, CMA "goals" are actually assessments - taxes on parishes, if you will - and parishes have to make up any shortfalls.

Therefore, I will be writing an extra check to my parish this fall and it will be the same amount I have given the CMA in the past. If the bishop wants it, he'll have to confiscate it. But at least my parish's budget won't suffer because I cannot, in good conscience, support anything under Matthew Clark's incompetent control.