Holy Windfall, Bloomie!: The Mayor's Catholic School Idea

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You might have heard that Mayor Bloomberg wants to save a few New York Catholic schools by making them er...not Catholic schools anymore. As public charters, the troubled schools would receive much needed cash from the city.

According to the Times, which looked at similar conversions in Washington DC, there's "much to like" about the idea of salvaging the schools with charter money (even though the whole church/state thing will put a cramp in the style of some teachers accustomed to religious instruction, which will have to be jettisoned).

The Times, however, forgot to mention the most attractive part for the Catholic Church.

"They missed the part about the archdiocese making out like fat rats," says Mike Frisby.

Frisby is a DC-area resident and Catholic school alum who ran a media campaign against Catholic school conversions in the District. He points out that New York's planned conversion would, like Washington's, reside in buildings still owned by the church.

Working with a group called "Black Catholics United" Frisby made a stink about this set-up in his own city.

"Think about it like this, they [the Catholic church] lease the buildings as public charter schools, collect nice rental fees....get the taxpayers to pay for any renovations needed, including asbestos clean-up, then 5 or 10 years from now the schools close down, they get the buildings and land back and sell them off for millions upon millions of dollars."

Baltimore's (now defunct) Examiner noted the lucrative position of the church, and charters do have a way of shutting down in the middle of the night.

The archdiocese, however, sees it another way: "kids win!"



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