Legendary St. Anthony High School President Bob Hurley was the keynote speaker for the Bayonne Knights of Columbus’ 119th annual Palm Sunday Communion Breakfast, his first public appearance since announcing the school would be closing last week.
On Wednesday, Hurley announced that St. Anthony High School would be closing its doors after a 65-year run due to decreasing enrollment and increasing costs.
In front of a standing-room only crowd, Hurley lamented how the closing of St. Anthony, as well as the possibility of the same thing happening to Marist High School in Bayonne, will leave staff and students scrambling for a new home next school year.
“The big issue is just the decline of Catholic education and the only option is closing doors as we speak. We’re going to have to place 160 students in other schools. I feel bad that we just don’t have the ability to continue to do what we do,” Hurley told a crowd of about 300.
“Unfortunately, two weeks from Monday the same thing may happen with Marist High School, and all of a sudden roughly 480 kids are going to end up scrambling for new options. It’s just been a miserable few days,” said Hurley.
In an interview with Hurley, he explained what was it like to give staff the bad news.
“We knew for a long time that we might not be able to reach three key requirements. We [had no choice] but to tell the staff and faculty on April 5 that they’ll need to search for new jobs.”
“These are people who taught my sons and have done a great service for Catholic education, [so] it was very difficult to tell them. But we had to tell them as soon as possible because they now have to make adjustments in their own lives,” he explained.
Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced on the sports radio show WFAN that St. Anthony High Scholl could be miraculously saved if the commissioners of major league sports such as the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League simply provided $125,000 each to keep the doors open.
Unfortunately, Hurley said it’ll take more than $500,000 to sustain operations.
“The number is much bigger. I think the ‘open the door’ number that the [Newark] Archdiocese would be happy with is closer to $2 million. The greatest issue is that the students [paying] $6,100 for tuition is the number that they can reach, with some help from financial scholarship money,” admitted Hurley.
“If we were to raise tuition to $10,000 we couldn’t educate those kids….because they just don’t have the resources to pay for higher tuition.”