Local philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano, founder and chairman of the board of the payroll-processing firm Paychex, has offered to buy the building that houses Irondequoit’s Bishop Kearney High School, court papers indicate.
According to paperwork filed Feb. 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, Golisano has offered to pay $3.4 million to purchase the school building from its owner, The Christian Brothers Institute and the Christian Brothers of Ireland, a bankrupt religious order. A hearing on the proposed sale was scheduled to take place in White Plains, N.Y., at 10 a.m. on March 4.
The Christian Brothers Institute and the Christian Brothers of Ireland filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011, and a plan to emerge from bankruptcy was drafted in May 2013. Court papers indicate that as part of the Christian Brother’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, net proceeds from selling the building at 125 Kings Highway South in Irondequoit will be paid to a trust established for the benefit of survivors of sexual abuse by members of The Christian Brothers Institute and the Christian Brothers of Ireland. That trust for victims was established as part of a $16.7 million settlement agreed to this January, according to the court papers.
“The sale will provide fair value to the (survivors’ benefit) Trust and maintain operation of the School,” Eric Schwarz, trustee of the Christian Brothers’ trust, stated in a motion to authorize the sale.
The court paperwork states that Golisano, a major benefactor of the school, “intends to purchase the Property for the benefit of the School and that the School will waive its right of first refusal provided for under the lease.” Golisano donated $3 million to the school in 2006 and another $1 million for technology upgrades in 2007.
Thomas O’Neil, president and CEO of Bishop Kearney High School, declined to comment on the potential sale, and a call to the Golisano Foundation was not returned.
If it is approved, proceeds from the $3.4 million sale would be added to $13.5 million the Christian Brothers of Ireland and The Christian Brothers’ Institute — along with $3.2 million from an insurer — have agreed to pay to a fund for sexual-abuse survivors, according to an undated statement about the bankruptcy plan on the website of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North American province, which is based in New Rochelle, N.Y. The legal name of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers is The Christian Brothers Institute, which is not structurally connected to the De La Salle Christian Brothers, an order that has a regional office in Washington, D.C., and operates schools nationwide.
In a statement, leaders of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North American province apologized for the pain survivors and their families have endured.
“We continue to hold in prayer the survivors of sexual abuse and hope that this settlement can bring some degree of healing and reconciliation into their lives,” Brother Hugh O’Neill, the order’s provincial, and Brother Kevin Griffith, deputy provincial, said in the undated statement.
The statement said the order currently enforces a comprehensive zero-tolerance initiative to protect children and vulnerable adults, and undergoes outside audits on its efforts.
“The protection of children, and creating safe environments at our ministry sites and in our communities, is our highest priority,” Brothers O’Neill and Griffith said in the statement.
The Christian Brothers Institute sold Bishop Kearney High School — but not the building that houses it — to a board of lay trustees in July 1999 due to a declining number of brothers available to staff the school. However, Bishop Kearney has continued to operate as a part of the order’s network, which is officially known as the Edmund Rice Network of Schools.
Bishop Kearney serves grades 7 to 12 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012.Tags: Catholic Schools