BY Chiara Sottile
Ever since the Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced on Nov. 9 that Inwood’s Good Shepherd elementary school could be shut due to shrinking enrollment, Good Shepherd parents have been groping for ways to save it.
“I’m on the computer every day, between looking for work and this,” said parent and Good Shepherd alumna Regina Christoforatos, who has been unemployed for three months and has used some of her free time to launch the “Help us Help Good Shepherd School” Facebook page.
Christoforatos was among the huddle of gloomy-faced parents that gathered at the entrance to Good Shepherd one morning this week to wave goodbye to their kids and hand off multicolored backpacks.
“It is the only school in the neighborhood where we feel safe leaving our kids,” said parent Jackie Diaz-Solano. “The public schools around here are failing. What options do we have as parents?” she said, expressing her fear that the church will close the school at the end of this academic year.
The school’s pastor, Rev. Robert Abbatiello wrote in the church newsletter that, “Although many have already concluded that the school is closing, NO FINAL DECISION will be made until January.”
That has helped galvanize the Facebook effort by Christoforatos, which already has 275 supporters. “I have alumni from Alaska calling me asking how they can help,” she said.
“But we should have done more outreach and advertised the school more to the neighborhood. It’s been hinted for the past three years,” said Christoforatos. When enrollment fell to 120 students this year, Good Shepherd was “considered ‘at-risk.’”