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Astoria Catholic school to close after nearly 60 years in operation

PreciousBlood

Jan 12, 2015 By Michael Florio

An Astoria Catholic school with be closing its doors for good this June.

Most Precious Blood School, located at 32-52 37th Street, will be closing after being open for 58 years, according to a letter sent out Friday by Rev. William Krlis, the school’s pastor.

Krlis, in his letter, wrote that the decision to close was based on the fact that it would cost $5.5 million to repair the school and church. The school building needs $2.55 million in repairs, according to the letter.

“The school needs a new roof, new doors and windows, brickwork and boiler replacement,” said Stefanie Gutierrez, a spokeswoman with the Diocese of Brooklyn, which also oversees Queens.

The church building would cost an estimated $3 million in repairs, to fix the south wall, which has begun to separate. The wall has been temporarily shored up until further repairs could be made.

The church will remain open after the school closes.

Declining enrollment in the school has been an issue in recent times. Currently, there are 191 students enrolled from kindergarten through 8th grade– 20 students lower than last year.

However, many parents were upset when they heard the news.

Lissette Paz, a parent and member of the school association, argued that the school is thriving, and noted that the school has recently bought 18 smart boards and new computers. Furthermore, she said the school is being sacrificed to save the church.

“He [Krlis] is just closing down the school for his purpose to save the church,” she said.

Paz, who has two children in the school, one in pre-k and the other in first grade, is unsure where they will go when the school closes.

“Schools in Astoria are already over populated,” she said. “Kids came into school today crying.”

However, the students from Most Precious Blood School will receive priority when they apply to neighboring Catholic schools, including Saint Josephs Catholic Academy, Saint Francis of Assisi, Immaculate Conception Catholic School and St Sebastian’s School, Gutierrez said.

“All of these schools will hold open houses and all have pledged to accept any families displaced by Most Precious’s closing,” she said. “All of these schools do have space for these children.”

The teachers from Most Precious Blood School will be given priority in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Gutierrez added.

The school will host a meeting for parents on Wednesday, January 14th, at 7 pm in the school auditorium.

Gutierrez said the church is looking to rent out the school building as soon as possible. These funds will go to toward repairing the church building.

She would not comment if the future tenant would have to repair the school building.

However, Paz said parents have heard rumors that the building will be rented out to the Department of Education, and plans on bringing this topic up at Wednesday’s meeting.

Several Catholic schools have closed in Western Queens in recent years—such as St. Teresa’s in Sunnyside; Corpus Christi School in Woodside; and St. Raphael’s in Long Island City.

email the author: news@queenspost.com

22 Comments

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J Lee

If this school is completely financially solvent and financially independent of the MPB Parish, I simply do not understand why it is being closed. Can anyone please explain this to me? I am also profoundly disappointed that the Sisters of St. Joseph have been “displaced”. I do understand that their numbers have declined significantly. However, religious sisters have been an integral part of the Catholic teaching system and their presence has often benefited this (and other) schools’ finances greatly. Has there been any recent news about this school? Please fill us in.

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T Gonzales

I just wonder where all the money is going?? Why are the fathers in this church not caring at all? How can the nun convent building which is about 5 floors w a huge back yard & parking for 5-7 cars have been sold for $1 million dollars??? Who approved this sale??? That’s exactly the type of decisions that are running this church to the ground. Where is the money going? Is it going into the fathers and administrator’s pockets??? Has the church sold the huge parking next to it?? Why not sale that instead and use that money towards the church? This is an insult to the parishioners intelligence and the parents & students. There should be a criminal investigation. There is clearly criminal activity here. Disgusting behavior on the church’s part.

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Abby

Well, we can’t have a big old Catholic school plop in the middle of the new Kaufman Arts District…it would be an eyesore to all the new hipsters.

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Mollb

You’re pretty ignorant, aren’t you. I thought queens was supposed to be the place that accepts anyone from anywhere. What’s with all the “hipster” prejudice?

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Racks

They should the school into a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. The city would pay them (dhs) and also would help the homeless problem

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T Gonzales

Absolutely NOT! Having a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen in the middle of a residential Astoria is preposterous. It’s already a shame and embarrassment the way the former nun convent building is being kept. Those new building owners have no respect, pride or responsibility over their property. It’s bad enough this block is looking like a south bronx street.

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Joe C

My 3 boys attended Catholic schools from elementary thru college with my youngest one graduating Bishop Ford HS in 2008. Bishop Ford was closed last year with the students notified on 4/15/14 leaving little time for the undergraduates to attempt to get into another Catholic HS. In 2006 there were over 1300 kids in Bishop Ford & this year there would have been 500 but no attempts were made to increase enrollment back up. This year there is a NYC charter high school and 7 NYC pre-k classes being rented space in the school in addition to DeSales Media Co. If you read about the ongoing teacher negotiations for a raise from the NYC Archdiocese, supposedly the teachers were told if they accepted no raises for 2 years then no schools would close; if they accepted a 1% pay increase per year for 2 years then up to 10 schools would be closed each year. Similar to your school’s situation, Cardinal Dolan has now proposed closing St. Thomas More Church on the east side of NYC even though they are solvent as your school is and has a large & wealthy group of parishioners. Google St. Thomas More Church & Bishop Ford HS to learn more. Bishop DiMarzio & Cardinal Dolan know that leasing school space or selling the property will yield more than their schools will. If they are going to begin to dispose of schools & churches that are solvent then they are no more than greedy landlords and at this rate there will be few if any Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn & the Archdiocese of NY within 15 years. Also fewer kids in Catholic schools then fewer kids going to mass. And then the Church hierarchy wonder why there are few children or young people at mass. Sneaky of the pastor of Most Precious Blood not to include in the enrollment number the nursery & pre-k students. I believe NYC pays the schools that are being rented $10,000 per student for pre-k. Parents, students & alumni appealed to Bishop DiMarzio to give Bishop Ford one more year to stay open to attempt to reach solvency & increase enrollment but he would not budge. It has also been proven that when Catholic schools close then mass attendance at the parish falls. Hope MPB gets lucky & stays open. My boys and I are still practicing Catholics but with events such as these at the schools it is becoming harder & harder.

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anonomus

I refuse to donate anymore to the catholic churches. They are run by a bunch of bullies and it is very sad. I say that I believe in God and Jesus and try to live a good life. What I don’t believe in is the powers that be in the catholic church today. Hopefully the Pope can change some of that. Its really disgusting. I hope MBP fight the diocese and wins.

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Hall

It makes no logical sense to close the school.
Catholic schools close due to very low enrollment, heavy debt and borrowing from the Diocese. Even such school closing are usually done with much dismay, pain and resistance by pastors. This closing was not done with any real care, pain or feeling for those affected by Krlis. Nor were the facts given accurate. They were manipulated, clearly. It seems Father Krlis is more concerned with his own legacy of saving a church building…than saving the actual future of a parish by keeping a thriving and solid school going…the next generation of MPB parish. As a religious school it provides this next generation. This closing is unjustified and wrong on every level and it can be proved if the facts come out. I for one hope it is not too late. And to answer a question posed…Parish population has dropped 28% since Father Krlis took over 6 years ago. Closing the school to make up for what he himself has lost??? This is wrong and even if the school is closed…the truth of the matter has to be revealed. It is not right.

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Denise Weber

The church would rather save their Sunday wine sermons then save the school to educate the children of this country.

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Anon

If your opinion of the Roman Catholic Mass is that it is a “Sunday wine sermon” you have no place in a R.C. Church or school. In addition it’s than not then moron.

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James Oakes

Wow! Calling someone a moron to defend your argument. How very Catholic of you. And what Gospel is that from?

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Gabriel

James don’t be a jackass if you can help it. That comment about Sunday wine indicated an unbelievable level of stupidity and ignorance as well as irreverence for the holy sacrifice of the Mass. To call that person a Moron was an understatement!

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Joey C

“Stupid ” would have worked fine , being “Catholic ” does not mean , you let people trash our religion ,

Anonymous

So true,,,they eat the best food (steak on Good Friday no less) the best hard liquor. All this knowledge from one who did the cooking and stored the liquor delivery in a Queens NY parish rectory.

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Joann Ianniello

The press release regarding the proposed closing of Most Precious Blood School in Astoria is very misleading. Yes, the building is in need of repairs. However, much more structural damage exists in the church building, not the school. The press release makes it seem that the school is a burden to the parish, but this is not the reality!
The current enrollment for the 2014-2015 at Most Precious Blood School in Astoria is 315 students. 191 was cited as the enrollment of students from K to 8. However, left out of the equation is the Nursery Program which has 39 students and the thriving Universal PreK program which has 101 students. In fact, since the school added on extra UPK classes, an additional PreK teacher was hired in September, 2014!
Most Precious Blood School is solvent and does not accept any funds from the parish. Mrs. Carol Roses, the Registrar, has collected 100% tuition for the 2014-15 school year. Ms. DeMaio, the school Principal, has successfully kept the school in the black for the past six years.
Unfortunately, Pastor Krlis has not managed to keep the parish solvent despite numerous fundraising attempts. My own family members, Mrs. Ray Maggio (now deceased) and Yolanda Primavera generously gave to the original building campaigns. What was done with the money? Even the parish convent was sold and the Sisters of St. Joseph displaced to the tune of 1 million dollars to fix the bell tower! Has the parish enrollment declined? If so, how much?
The question on everyone’s mind at Most Precious Blood School is “Why would a thriving, successful, independent Catholic school be closed to save the parish?” Should not Bishop DiMarzio be questioning why Fr. Krlis has not brought MPB Parish into a better financial situation? Or has the plan all the while been to close down Most Precious Blood School instead of having it transition to a Catholic Academy so the school building could be rented to the NYC Department of Education to generate thousands of dollars to restore the church building? $$$$ or excellent Catholic Education? Seems clear to me which Bishop DiMarzio and Fr. Krlis have chosen!

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Abby

Is it in negotiations to be sold? Residential? Astoria has become the new Upper East Side since I moved here in 2005. I wish everyone that moved to Astoria could experience that old fashioned diverse NYC neighborhood, but it is disappearing at an alarming rate! I used to live with very cheap rent and rooftop access on 37th Street & 35th Avenue, and now it is called “The Kaufman Arts District” The rooftops down the street charge $5,000 a night to have a get together-unreal, I had for free for years!

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