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Parents protest closure of Catholic school in Cicero

A group of at least two dozen parents gathered outside the rectory of Holy Name Cathedral on Saturday to persuade Cardinal Blase Cupich to reconsider his decision to close his children’s elementary school in western suburban Cicero.

The hour-long protest in front of Holy Name followed the following statement made by the archdiocese last month: St. in Cicero Frances of Rome School and St. Louis in Berwyn. Odilo SchoolTwo private schools for kindergarten through eighth grade will close their doors in June after the end of the academic year. The announcement said there was a “crushing fiscal cliff” for the two schools following the loss of the state tax credit scholarship program for school choice.

However, St. Parents at St. Frances of Rome said they were given no warning that their school might close and their questions repeatedly went unanswered.

“We requested an open parent forum to have our questions answered,” said parent organizer Betty Paz, who has a 7th-grade daughter at the school.

Parents of the school, which has a predominantly Hispanic student population from working-class families, said anonymous donors have pledged to contribute large sums of money to keep the school open if the church approves the effort. Paz refused to share the exact amount of money donated by donors.

Sun, St. He said France’s parents pooled their money to rent a bus and drive from Cicero to the Cathedral of the Holy Name on the North River in 35 minutes.

Paz explained why they were protesting: “We are disappointed in our leadership in the archdiocese, but as parents we are here to ensure that St. Frances of Rome remains open because we want what is best for our community and our children.”

The archdiocese is committed to keeping schools open, but the loss of tax credit program funds is costing the church millions, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Greg Richmond told the Tribune Saturday afternoon.

“Despite pleas from thousands of families, the legislature ended the scholarship program, costing Catholic schools in the Chicago area $25 million,” Richmond said in a statement. “The hardest hit are St. Louis in Rome, which serves the largest number of low-income students. These are schools like Frances. “We are doing our best to keep Catholic schools open, but this is a painful blow.”

It was unclear whether Cupich was at the rectory at the time of the protest.

The archdiocese said state lawmakers are expected to lose thousands of dollars in tuition by not renewing the Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program after its Dec. 31 expiration date.

Inside Previous interview with Tribune, school leaders acknowledged that the schools had previously experienced financial difficulties, but said support from Invest in Kids tax credit grants had kept the schools afloat for the past several years. The program became law in 2017.

Families at the schools were sent by the archdiocese to the two remaining archdiocesan schools in the area, St. Louis in Berwyn. He was encouraged to enroll at St. Leonard School and Our Lady of Charity School in Cicero, but parents say the schools are more expensive and not an adequate substitute for them. their children in St. Rome, Rome. Education at Frances.

“It’s very difficult because we are low-income families and we barely make money to send our kids to this school where tuition is so much cheaper than other schools in our area,” said parent Brenda Sanchez, who brought her daughter Alexa. 7, to walk with him. “Since my children benefit from state scholarships, the scholarships we received at our school no longer exist. It will now be impossible to keep our children in schools.”

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