Some Catholic Schools Could Become Charter Schools

Four Roman Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn that are in danger of closing might instead be converted into publicly funded charter schools.

REPORTER: Mayor Bloomberg and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio announced Saturday that they are exploring the possibility of a pilot program that would keep the schools open with taxpayer dollars. The mayor says such a conversion could solve two problems:

BLOOMBERG: The schools as they exist are really struggling, and two, we as a city just do not have enough classroom space for those who are currently going to school. And if these students decide to leave parochial schools and seek admission into the public schools, it would just exacerbate our problem.

REPORTER: The idea is modeled after a similar conversion of parochial schools in Washington D.C. The plan faces hurdles in New York. Bloomberg says state law currently prohibits conversions of religious schools into charter schools, so the program would require legislative approval.

There would also be curriculum changes. Religious instruction would be prohibited, and the church would have less say in how the schools are run, though Bishop DiMarzio says the church could continue provide services to the schools through Catholic Charities.