Niagara Catholic, Notre Dame among six Catholic high schools losing subsidies from diocese

Notre Dame HS losing $125k from Catholic Diocese
Posted at 8:25 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-28 05:30:33-04

The principal of Notre Dame High School in Batavia says he was "shocked" to receive a letter from the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo saying the diocese was pulling its subsidies to six Catholic schools across Western New York.

"The thing that's shocking is that this isn't their style," principal Wade Bianco told 7 Eyewitness News.

The schools received a letter from the diocese's Director of Finance in late April that explained why the diocese would be eliminating funding for the schools.  Bianco estimates that cut for Notre Dame is $125,000 - or 10% of the school's budget.

"That forced us to get into reduction mode," Bianco said.

As a result, Notre Dame will be reducing spending in cafeteria hours, teacher hours, and clerical hours.

Bianco told 7 Eyewitness News no jobs are being eliminated, and if the school cuts a teacher's hours, they will offer that teacher a first opportunity to sub.

A spokesperson for the diocese would not confirm or deny the letter or the specific funding reduction Bianco disclosed, however it did confirm that the subsidies have ended for six Catholic schools: Niagara Catholic, Bishop Walsh, Cardinal O'Hara, St. Mary's High School, Bishop Timon and Notre Dame.

On Wednesday, Niagara Catholic confirmed it is closing its doors "effective immediately," in part due to the subsidy cuts, which the Governing Board of Niagara Catholic, says amounted to at least $200,000.

"The Diocese has been supporting this former diocesan school for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to provide this support," George Richert, spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, said in a statement.

Bishop Walsh High School in Olean is losing approximately $107,000 in subsidies from the diocese, but does not expect any changes to staffing.

"It's a tough pickle, but we will get through it," Thomas Manko, Bishop Walsh principal and president, told 7 Eyewitness News.

On Wednesday night, Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School said in a statement, "We are very disappointed by the decision of the Catholic Diocese to no longer financially support Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School." 

Richert says it is not a coincidence that this timing coincides with the ongoing priest sex abuse scandal plaguing the diocese, but insists there are many factors involved in the decision to pull subsidies from these six schools.

"There are so many things that are part of the decision," Richert said.

Richert points to a steady decline in overall perish collections and revenue within the diocese.  

Bianco wants to know what the vision for the Catholic church is in Western New York.

"What's our role in this vision, and what can we count on from the Diocese?," Bianco wants to know.



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