Archdiocese of New York Hires Outside Organization to Run Schools

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In an unprecedented move, the Archdiocese of New York is trying to save six cash-strapped elementary schools by allowing an outside organization to run them.

The Partnership for Inner-City Education — which has a history of working with city Catholic schools — is contracting with the archdiocese to manage the finances and oversee the academic curriculums of the schools in the Bronx and Harlem starting this fall.

“We want to have full enrollment and sustainability for the very long term,” said Jill Kafka, executive director of the nonprofit. “We’re really looking to have these schools alive for a long time.”

It’s the first time that an independent group will take control of New York City parochial schools, with power to oversee the hiring and firing of teachers and staff. The terms of the current teachers’ union contract still stand, officials said.

The nonprofit has allocated $9 million over the next five years to repair school buildings and plans to foot the bill for classroom materials, professional development for teachers, enrichment programs and other resources that inner-city schools don’t normally receive.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, acknowledged that the Catholic school system within the archdiocese — which covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island as well as Westchester and other upstate counties — needs an overhaul.

“We need to try new administrative models to address the challenges faced by Catholic education today and to ensure that our schools thrive and stay strong for future generations,” Dolan said in a statement. “We can’t afford ‘business as usual.’ ”

The archdiocese will oversee religious instruction and retain ownership of school buildings.

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