FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6 December 2011
ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. – December 6, 2011 – The Most Reverend William Murphy, bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, today affirmed the continued operation of 43 parish and regional Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. And, with an analysis on the viability of each of the schools in the diocese by the Bishops Advisory Committee on Catholic Education in hand, he agreed to close six schools in the Diocese. In addition, Bishop Murphy asked pastors in two areas of the Diocese to work together with school and diocesan leadership to strategically collaborate to strengthen the schools involved so that those areas will continue to have good, sound Catholic schools for the future.
“While these choices have not been easy and closing schools is one of the most painful parts of my ministry, I want to assure the parents and children that they are uppermost in my mind,” said Bishop Murphy.
Back in September 2011, Bishop Murphy approved the Strategic Plan for Catholic Elementary Schools that was intended to preserve and enhance Catholic elementary schools to ensure they continue to offer quality education for future generations of children.
“Given the changing demographics and the economic climate on Long Island we, like many public school districts, must face the harsh reality that we no longer need as many school buildings as in the past,” said Sister Joanne Callahan, OSU, superintendent of schools, Diocese of Rockville Centre. “Our actions today are not just about buildings, but about our ongoing commitment to providing a strong, vibrant, wholesome education to the children of this Diocese.”
In the past decade, overall K-8 enrollment in both Nassau and Suffolk public schools and Diocesan elementary schools has steadily decreased. More specifically, K-8 enrollment in Diocesan elementary schools has dropped 34 percent in the last ten years.
The decision to close schools is the result of a thorough analysis of the viability of each of the parish and regional schools in the Diocese as part of the implementation process of the Strategic Plan for Catholic Elementary Schools. The Advisory Committee completed an evaluation of the ability of each school to provide and sustain into the foreseeable future, a quality Catholic education program. This study included an extensive analysis of enrollment and school-age demographic trends, the financial position of the schools and parishes, and a review of the facilities, technology and programs offered.
The following schools will close in June 2012, at the end of the current academic year:
Nassau County Schools Closing :
- Farmingdale: Saint John Baptist de La Salle Regional School
- Franklin Square: Saint Catherine of Sienna School
- Hicksville: Saint Ignatius Loyola School
- North Merrick: Sacred Heart School
Suffolk County Schools Closing :
- Lindenhurst: Our Lady of Perpetual Help School
- Sayville: Prince of Peace Regional School
As of September 2012, the Diocese will have 47 Catholic elementary schools (43 parish or regional and 4 private). The Diocese is committed to providing students and their families with a smooth and positive transition to nearby Catholic schools. In early January 2012, there will be informational sessions and open houses for parents and students with representatives of neighboring schools for the September 2012-13 academic year.
In one section of Nassau County and one in Suffolk County, pastors have been asked to work together with school and diocesan leadership to collaborate in strengthening the schools involved so that there will be Catholic schools in the future in both areas.
The following schools will form strategic alliances:
Nassau County Schools to Form Strategic Collaboration :
- Oyster Bay: Saint Dominic School
- Syosset: Saint Edward the Confessor School
Suffolk County Schools to Form Strategic Collaboration :
- Center Moriches: Our Lady Queen of Apostles Regional School
- Cutchogue: Our Lady of Mercy Regional School
- Riverhead: Saint Isidore School
The Advisory Committee worked with the Diocesan Education Department for a year-and-a-half to develop and implement the Strategic Plan. The Advisory Committee, which includes members of the Elementary Education Commission, the Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation, Diocesan administration and pastor representatives, examined the challenges and opportunities facing elementary schools in the Diocese, created measurable and attainable goals, and provided strategies to achieve success.
“The Bishop’s Advisory Committee takes seriously its charge to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan to support the long-term sustainability, growth and excellence of Catholic elementary schools on Long Island and recognizes the gravity of these decisions,” said Brian Shea, chair of the Bishop’s Advisory Committee for Catholic Education. “Despite the difficult, but necessary, transition of the coming months, we have developed and have begun to execute a strategic plan that gives us confidence in our ability to achieve the committee’s mission in the future. Despite the short term challenges, we are recommitting and taking action to help ensure the availability of quality Catholic education on Long Island in the future.”
The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which encompasses Nassau and Suffolk Counties, educates almost 31,000 students from nursery school through 12th grade. It has provided quality Catholic education to students since before the Diocese was formed in 1957.
Click Here for additional information on the Strategic Plan and the reorganization of schools on the Education Departmen website.
About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1,737,498 baptized Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.4 million). There are 134 parishes (1 campus parish) in 115 towns. In 2010, 16,318 baptisms, 16,296 confirmations, 17,123 First Holy Communions and 4,773 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 18,496 students in Catholic elementary schools; 12,328 students in Catholic high schools and 3,500 students in higher institutions. There are 53 Catholic elementary schools (49 parish or regional and 4 private), 10 high schools (3 diocesan, 2 parish and 5 private) and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of six hospitals, three nursing homes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. In 2010, Catholic Charities assisted more than 53,500 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. (09/11).
CONTACT: Sean P. Dolan
Director of Communications
(p) 516-678-5800, ext. 625