Catholic school closures blindside some families

Jan 16, 2014

Ten Catholic elementary schools will close at the end of the school year, the Diocese of Buffalo announced Wednesday. The news that their school was on the list caught many families off guard.

Fourteen Holy Helpers in West Seneca

Fourteen Holy Helpers in West Seneca is among those slated to close. Parent Colleen Sikora says she heard the school was closing via robocall. She says her seventh grader was devastated to hear the news.

“When she heard the news she immediately dropped to her knees and started sobbing, crying uncontrollably. She was so upset she actually made my husband start crying. She was inconsolable at that point. We were shocked, disheartened, and we were angry,” said Sikora.

Sikora says she was blindsided by the announcement as the Home School Association at Fourteen Holy Helper’s had been making its fundraising goals.

“Our school was given a list of criteria that the Diocese had put forth and we had everything on the criteria list with the exception of enrollment. In my opinion the schools that are staying open did not have the enrollment that the Diocese wanted as well. Even our pastor was not given a reason as to why we were the one West Seneca school that closed out of the three,” said Sikora.

Sikora says now she’s looking into other Catholic schools for her daughter to transfer, but she’s finding that other schools don’t offer the same before and after school programs, helpful for working parents. She says she’s looking into Charter schools as well.

“I think it would have been better had the Diocese made a regional school in West Seneca, whether it was two buildings, K-4 in one building and 5-8 in another building. If they would have made a regional school it would have made the children from Fourteen Holy Helpers have the possibility to stay with the majority of their friends,” said Sikora.

Sikora feels parents at Fourteen Holy Helpers were left out of the decision making process. The closure of the ten schools will affect more than 1,100 students and 195 faculty and staff. The Diocese of Buffalo is encouraging parents to send children to neighboring Catholic schools.