April 27, 2015 By Michael Florio
As the school year nears an end, the fight to save an Astoria Catholic school is all but over.
Parents and teachers are now dealing with the fallout that the Most Precious Blood School, located at 32-52 37th Street, will be closing. Many of the parents have enrolled their children elsewhere—with about half going to other Queens-based Catholic schools such as St Joseph’s, St Francis and Immaculate Conception.
However, Lissette Paz, a member of the school’s PTA, said that the teachers are struggling to find new jobs. She claimed that the Brooklyn diocese, which is in charge of the Catholic schools in Queens and Brooklyn, has not assisted the teachers in finding jobs elsewhere.
“None of the teachers have new jobs,” Paz said. “They refuse to help them find new positions within the diocese.”
A call to confirm this was placed to school officials, who said Paz spoke on their behalf.
The diocese did not respond to calls.
After operating for 58 years, the Brooklyn diocese made the decision to close Most Precious Blood School after discovering that it needed funds to repair the building and the church located next door. The cost was estimated to be $5.5 million–$2.5 million for the school and $3 million for the church.
The diocese made the decision to close the school and repair the church.
Parents, who felt like the school was being sacrificed to save the church, fought to save the school, first starting a petition that received about 2,000 signatures.
They then held a small protest in front of the Brooklyn diocese building—located at 310 Prospect Park West in Brooklyn— for three days in March, chanting that the school should be saved.
The diocese has not found a tenant to move into the school building, once Precious Blood closes, Paz said.
She said that the parents’ association submitted a request with the diocese to rent the building for a year to keep the school open, but it went unanswered.
Coleen Ceriello, who has been handling the property for the diocese, did not respond for comment.
The parents, teachers and students—aware that all their options have been exhausted—put together a video to pay tribute to the school.
The song is sung by 2010 American Idol finalist Michael Lynche who has a child attending the school.
Paz said that the video was made as a memento for the children to help them remember their time at the school.
“The kids had a blast making the video and it turned out to be a nice keepsake,” she said.