High school shuts down over money issues

February 9, 2012 2:50:46 PM PST
They are used to being winners. Nazareth High School's legendary girls' basketball team is the state's defending class AA champion.

98% of students graduate, 96% go college, but the kids at the prestigious Catholic School in Brooklyn have suddenly found themselves on the losing end of a devastating deal.

"It's not only a school they are taking away from us," said student Nala Frank, "this is a home for certain students, it's all they have."

But will all be gone in June when the school closes its doors forever. It's mind-blowing to Brian Perez, who says Nazareth played a huge role in his life.

"Nazareth helped me get into college, helped me meet people, people I would probably have never met," Perez said.

It's even more upsetting to juniors like Clarence Ciceron. He's on the Powerhouse Boy's Basketball team and had hoped to play in college.

"It would have been an important year for me to play basketball," says Ciceron, "but now it's looking kind of shaky. I don't know if I'll play next year at another school."

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of shutting down. One reason was a decline in enrollment from 602 kids in 2006 to just 311.

But some there feel misled. They were under the impression that the Brooklyn Diocese had lent the school, roughly $600,000, for things likes repairs and to balance the budget, only to find out it's more like $3 million. It's money Nazareth simply doesn't have.

"We were lied to about the amount of debt," said Steve Cantone, a teacher, "Teachers were never approached regarding if we could help out with playing the debt, it seems to be about money."

No one from the Brooklyn Diocese or the Board of Trustees at Nazareth wanted to comment on camera, but later Thursday night they will have to answer many questions during a meeting with parents.

"Their friendships are broken, the clubs are broken up, the teams, it's devastating to a high school student," Cantone said.

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