Feb. 13, 2015 By Michael Florio
Several parents with children at an Astoria Catholic school are continuing to do battle with the diocese that is looking to close it down.
Most Precious Blood School, located at 32-52 37th Street, is scheduled to close at the end of the school year and many parents are outraged.
They plan to hold rallies in front of the diocese, put pressure on the church to sell its parking lot and continue their petition drive.
The news that the school was closing was broken to parents in January, when a letter was sent out by Church Pastor Rev. William Krlis.
The letter said that the school was in need of $2.55 million to repair its buildings and the church required $3.5 million to maintain it. The letter stated that the diocese didn’t have the funds to keep the school open.
Many parents have been looking to reverse this decision since and save the 60-year old school.
In a bid to save it, the school’s Home School Association (the school’s PTA) had requested a meeting with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio who is in charge of the Brooklyn Diocese, which oversees Queens.
However, DiMarzio rejected their attempt for a meeting. Lissette Paz, a member of the Home School Association, said that a representative of the diocese called on Thursday and said that if the Bishop granted the meeting, it would indicate that there was still hope to save the school.
The diocese has been clear from the get-go that declining enrollment in the school played a large factor in its decision to close it. Currently, only 191 students are enrolled in the school from Kindergarten through 8th grade, a decrease of 20 students from last year alone. In 2008, the school had 305 students enrolled in these grades.
However, Paz said parents are not giving up hope to save it just yet.
The parents are planning a rally in front of DiMarzio’s office, located at 310 Prospect Park West in Brooklyn. The plan is to hold the rally in two weeks, after school is back in session.
“We are going to invite parents, students, alumni and members of the parish,” Paz said. “Some parents are even discussing renting buses to get everyone over there.”
Parents have sent thousands of letters to DiMarzio, Krlis and even the Vatican.
A petition that began in January to save the school has gathered nearly 2,900 signatures from parents, teachers and community members.
Meanwhile, Paz said that Venetian Management, a real estate firm, offered to pay $6 million to cover the cost of the repairs in return for a stake in the 12,000 square foot parking lot—a document that this publication has seen.
However, Paz said the real estate firm increased the offer to $10-million after it got no response from the diocese.
A representative from Venetian Management confirmed that the offers were made.
Paz said that a deal could save the school and was surprised that the diocese would not enter into talks with the real estate firm.
However, the diocese has a policy not to sell any parish property that is contiguous with a church campus.
Paz said that parents are also planning to start fundraisers to save the school, but only with the assurance that the funds would go toward saving the school.
However, when the pastor announced that the school was closing, he stated fundraisers to save schools in the past have been futile.
Paz does not believe the Diocese is doing all it can to save the school.