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As Catholic elementary schools in Erie County learn their fates this afternoon, the one in Genesee County is in the clear.

Bishop Richard Malone of the Buffalo Diocese has officially announced the 10 elementary schools – mostly in the Erie County Southtowns – that will close.

St. Joseph’s principal Karen Green says the school is here to stay.

In fact, though it’s a part of the Buffalo Diocese, Green says St. Joe’s wasn’t even being considered. That’s because it’s the only one of its kind in Genesee County after Holy Family in LeRoy shuttered after the 2011-2012 school year.

“We are here,” she said. “We are here to stay. Being the last school here in Genesee County, we were not included in the discussions right now in that aspect.”

It’s a revitalization effort to close schools struggling with finances and low enrollment, according to the Diocese.

Green says she’s relieved and thankful St. Joe’s is in a fortunate situation. She said she’s praying for the communities of the shuttered schools because she remembers how tough it was to go through with Holy Family.

It’s difficult, but Green sees the bright side.

“They’re just trying to make stronger Catholic schools in Erie County and the surrounding areas,” she said. “I think at that point we will be having wonderful community schools throughout the diocese that will be opportunities for families that are looking for a Catholic education and looking for that choice.”

The eight-county Diocese now has 41 Catholic elementary schools. A decade ago it was 86, according to numbers from the Buffalo News.

Bishop Malone called it a “gut-wrenching” day for students, family and faculty and staff.

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