Lesson for Pols

This week, a venerable Catholic school in the borough of Queens – St. Pancras, Glendale – announced that it is being forced to close its doors at the end of the current semester. St. Pancras, which has been open for more than 100 years, has been a bedrock to the stability of Glendale over the years. Its contribution to the public good is immeasurable.

Several other Catholic schools in the diocese are also considering dire measures because of the increasing cost of education as well as dwindling enrollment. It’s been a devastating combination for years.

Politicians will wring their hands and say how awful it is that these schools are going out of existence. Yet, these same civic leaders are the ones who year after year refuse to offer any solutions to keep them open. Even benign proposals such as tax credits for parents and/or benefactors are routinely rejected by our representatives in the Assembly, State Senate and the Executive Mansion.

Until recently, the state’s Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program has provided 100 percent reimbursement of the costs incurred by schools in compliance with state administrative mandates. For the last several years, agency officials have not permitted schools to claim 100 percent of their expenses – nor have lawmakers provided sufficient funds to reimburse schools for those expenses.

The State must restore the standard of reimbursing 100 percent of actual annual expenses incurred by religious and independent schools in administering state mandates and programs and include religious and independent schools in the MTA reimbursement mechanism established for public schools.

The Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program, enacted in 1974, requires the Commissioner of Education to reimburse religious and independent schools for the actual costs they incur in complying with certain state administrative mandates and participating in state programs.

The failure of lawmakers to provide such mandated reimbursements has forced tuition to rise and services to be cut. Tuition-paying parents deserve and can tolerate neither.

We support the NYS Catholic Conference as it urges the governor and legislators to meet their obligations under the reimbursement programs and to include religious and independent schools in the MTA reimbursement mechanism established for public schools.

We need action from our political leaders not more press releases about what a shame it is that our schools are being forced to close.