Parents scramble to find new school for their children as St. Andrew’s in Tonawanda inches toward closing date

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Time is ticking for parents to find a new school for their children as Saint Andrew’s in Tonawanda inches closer to its last day. St. Andrew’s Country Day School is set to close on June 30.

Principal Pamela Giannantonio says the school is taking it day by day. and with not a lot of time left, her focus is on helping the parents and students.

“We just have something here. There’s a draw. It is unfortunate that this is no longer part of the community,” Giannantonio, who’s been the principal at St. Andrew’s for the last five years.

Earlier this month, the Buffalo Diocese announced plans to close the school the parish, saying it has been “plagued by financial challenges.”

“I’m really sad. This has been my home away from home for 25 years and I feel bad for the kids. They feel lost and I keep telling them, they’re going to be ok. We’ll all be ok. It’s just sad, the closing,” said Maria Stainsby, who’s a teacher at the school.

St. Andrew’s parish, school in Tonawanda to close by June

School board members and faculty have been trying to prevent this from happening. They opened a daycare to reverse declining enrollment and rented out a space at the school for extra money.

“It just never seemed like what we were given was enough. We would answer [the Diocese] and then it was just one more thing they would put out as a requirement, as a request until they claimed the finances were just not there,” Giannantonio said.

In a statement to the school, Superintendent Dr. Tim Uhl wrote, “The Bishop has shared that he would like the school to remain open until the end of the year. This will require all of us working together to do what is best for our students. This means we need all students to stay, all families to continue with their tuition commitments, and bingo revenue to continue uninterrupted. Therefore, the guarantee of the school staying open until June 30 is entirely dependent on you.”

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“It’s a little harsh and unrealistic and unfair, but that is what we’ve been told,” Giannantonio said. “No one will assure us June 30th from any direction but us to say we are here business as usual, we have children to educate.”

Giannantonio is holding a school fair Thursday night for parents so they can see what options are out there for their children.

“I know they’ll all find their place, they’ll land on their feet. Something will appear, but I think everyone who has walked these halls has a piece of this school and community in their heart forever,” Giannantonio said.

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.

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