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Strengths & challenges for area Catholic schools

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The graduation rate for Catholic high school students in Western New York is at 99-percent.  98-percent of those graduates go on to college.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley recently spoke with the Schools Superintendent for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo about strengthening Catholic schools and challenges ahead.   

“The poet, Langston Hughes said, 'parents give our children many things, but give them roots and give them wings',” said Sister Carol Cimino, Superintendent.

Cimino tells WBFO News they have 'high expectations' for students and it's the parents who help provide 'solid ground' for their education.

Credit WBFO News photo by Annie Mandart
Sister Carol Cimino, Schools Superintendent for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

“They want to know where their children are all day. ‘Is there somebody who is enforcing the morals and the ethics that I have taught my children in my home’ and we’re the ones that can say yes, we do that,” Cimino explained.

In working to strengthen learning programs for Catholic school students, more STREAM education, Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, the Arts and Math, are being added. The diocesan schools now have 21-STREAM Schools and 27-STREAM academies. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Past STREAM training for Catholic school teachers.

“What we are trying to do is institutionalize the whole STREAM program, so it’ll be our normal curriculum and I think parents are choosing that. Anytime I go to a meeting and they’ll say ‘where are you from’ and I’ll say I’m from the diocese – somebody will yell STREAM!”, Cimino remarked.

Sister Cimino is now in her fourth year as the leader of Catholic schools and has worked to make needed changes. She says the biggest challenge remains finances.

Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley
Past protest in Buffalo for proposed Education Tax Credit.

Cimino pointed out they continue fighting for an Education Tax Credit

“Parents pay school taxes. They pay school taxes, every single penny, and then they pay tuition and they don’t utilize what their taxes bought. They’re paying tuition. I truly believe, if we are going to be a free country, there has to be freedom of choice in education,” replied Cimino.

More than $1.5 million in scholarships and tuition assistance is provided to students in K-through 8. Cimino said with so much attention to local districts, area Catholic schools continue to 'chug along' -- schools established in 1847.

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