FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.queenscourier.com january 22, 2015 • The Queens Courier 3 Parents of Catholic school slated to close tell church officials: ‘GIVE US A CHANCE’ By Angy Altamirano firstname.lastname@example.org @aaltamirano28 Almost two weeks after learning that Most Precious Blood Catholic School in Astoria will be shuttered at the end of the school year, parents of the students are begging for one last chance to raise enough money to fix the building and keep it open. Students and parents at Most Precious Blood School, located at 35-32 37th St., found out Jan. 9, through a letter written THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer returns $20K of extra pay he gets for majority leader role THE COURIER/File Photo by Reverend William Krlis, pastor at Most Precious Blood Church, that the 58-year-old school would be closing due to drops in enrollment and the need for costly structural repairs. “These essential building repairs, combined with declining enrollment, will not allow us to continue,” Krlis said in the letter. “This decision was not made easily. After much dialogue with all relevant parties, including officials from the Diocese of Brooklyn and local Catholic schools, as well as consulting with engineering firms regarding the state of these necessary repairs, I presented these facts to the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. With his support, I made this painful decision in the best interest of the parish community.” Krlis added that an estimated $5.5 million in structural repairs are needed for both the school and church. The school building needs about $2.55 million in repairs and work cannot be done at the site while being used full time. Since receiving the news, parents have come together to try to figure out ways to fund the repairs. Members of the Home School Association (HSA), which includes parents, met with school officials on Jan. 20 to present their ideas but were turned down. “It was a really really disappointing meeting,” said Lissette Paz, an HSA member who has two sons who attend Most Precious Blood. “They came in with the agenda to tell us how to move forward and how to transition to the new school and here we are giving suggestions on how we can keep both the school and parish open.” Among the suggestions were ideas of raising funds for repairs, coming up with a three- to five-year budget for the school, and informing the school that a contracting company was willing to do pro bono work to repair the sites. “We’re basically trying to show them that we have so many solutions to their problems,” Paz said. According to Paz, the next and last step they will have to take is to present their ideas and plan to the Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio after he returns from a retreat this Sunday. Paz plans to personally hand an invitation to DiMarzio to come to the school. She added that the only progress made was that the neighboring Catholic schools have all agreed that if the school “miraculously stays open” they would refund registration fees to parents that might have enrolled their children in fear of losing a spot. “Give us a chance. That’s all we ask you for,” Paz said. “Our school is in wonderful condition. We do need some repairs but nothing that our children would be in danger.” Paz, whose husband is an alum of the school and who was married at Most Precious Blood Church, said she doesn’t see the repairs needed as sufficient reason to close the school, which last year received new computers and smartboards in all the rooms. She mentioned that the only crucial problem is one church wall that is being supported by a beam from the outside. Many parents have sent letters to teachers at the school stating that they don’t want their children attending mass at the church because of the “danger” referred to by school officials as one of the reasons to close. “I would not send my kids to a school that is in any kind of disarray. If we knew that there was a bigger problem, we would fix it,” Paz said. Most Precious Blood will host an open house on Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Catholic Schools Week and Paz hopes a lot of people show up to see how great the school actually is. “We want to shout from the rooftops, ‘Come and see our school,’” Paz said. “We invite everyone to come in and see our beautiful school.” BY THE QUENS COURIER STAFF email@example.com/@QueensCourier One local elected official is saying no thank you to a $20,000 annual stipend from the City Council. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the second-highest ranking member of the Council as majority leader, has decided to return his annual stipend, also known as a lulu, to taxpayers. He is eligible for the extra pay, in addition to his $112,500 salary, for his leadership post. “Returning my $20,000 stipend as majority leader of the New York City Council is the right thing to do for me,” Van Bramer said. “While donating the stipend to charity may be noble, not taking it at all is consistent with a pledge I made when I first ran for the City Council in 2009. I serve in government out of a desire to help others and to build up the people and the neighborhoods I serve. That is what drives me to work hard and it always will.” Lulus are given to members of the City Council for leadership posts or committee assignments. According to the NY Daily News, 47 of 51 members are given the additional pay ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The other Queens lawmaker to renounce the extra pay was Councilman Rory Lancman, who declined $8,000, joining 10 other Council members in the other boroughs who decided not to take the money, the Daily News said. Base pay for a member of the City Council was raised from $90,000 to $112,500 in 2006. But the job is technically part-time, allowing lawmakers to earn outside income. Good government groups have argued that lulus undermine the independence of individual lawmakers because, they say, the committee posts are handed out by the City Council speaker based on loyalty or other political considerations.
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