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Smithtown Parents Support Decision to Close Catholic Elementary Schools

Parents say Diocese’s decision to close six elementary school shows fiscal responsibility.

Town of Smithtown parents with children enrolled in local Catholic elementary schools said they supported the Diocese’s decision to close schools, but some worried about its future impact.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced Tuesday it is on Long Island at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Among the schools scheduled to close are Prince of Peace Regional School in Sayville and St. John Baptist La Salle Regional School in Farmingdale.

Diocese of Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy said the decision to close the six schools was brought on by "changing demographics and difficult national and local economic conditions."

“It makes sense to close a school rather than keep operating at a deficit. You won’t see that happen in public school, there’s the unions and 20,000 people to go through,” said one parent waiting for a St. Patrick’s School student Wednesday afternoon in Smithtown.

He was referring to Smithtown Central School District grappling with the decision of possibly closing either Mill Pond Elementary School or Nesconset Elementary School, a plan that .

Public knowledge and awareness of the diocese’s announcement varied widely among parents at St. Patrick’s on Wednesday. One man we spoke with said he was unaware of the announcement, and was fine with the decision given it didn’t affect St. Patrick’s, while others said they had heard.

“It’s a shame, all my kids when to LI Catholic elementary at St. Joseph’s. But I can see the economics of it. For parents, they are paying the big school taxes in addition to tuition,” said George H., of Centereach, who declined to give his last name, as he picked up his grandson up from St. Patrick’s School in Smithtown.

Tuition at St. Patrick’s School starts at $4,360 per a full-time student in 2011-2012, or $4,500 at Holy Family Regional School in Commack, which serves four Catholic parishes: Christ the King in Commack, St. Joseph’s in Kings Park, St. Matthew’s in Dix Hills, St. Thomas More in Hauppauge.

Exact enrollment figures for these two schools were not available from the Diocese of Rockville Center or the individual schools.

The Diocese released figures that show the Prince of Peace in Sayville has seen enrollment drop 24 percent, from 179 students in the 2000 - 2011 school year to 136 students in 2011-2012. The drop was even more dramatic at La Salle in Farmingdale, down 41 percent in the same time frame.

However, some parents worried that decision to close six elementary schools could have a further detrimental impact on enrollment.

“It may discourage some people from enrolling their children in a Catholic school, which is a shame. It’s a good education,” said one St. Patrick’s parent.

Staff members at both St. Patrick’s and Holy Family said their schools would gladly accept any students looking to transfer at the end of the year.

Sheri December 11, 2011 at 03:06 PM
LOL, I love your post Kim. I became a Catholic when I got married. Your generalization about those who attend Mass each week is so true. I'll never forget the Priest telling me what a better person I will be to have Christ in my life through the Catholic Church. He couldn't have been more wrong. I still have Christ and I still have marriage but The Catholic Church is no longer in our lives, somehow we are still just good people doing great things for others. I am, however, disappointed to see this happen to a Religion that has great history and meaning. Sad for their schools and the kids who are effected.
Ken Heard December 11, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I read several years ago that the Catholic population in the Southern Hemisphere now surpasses that in the Northern Hemisphere , and that , as a result, the next Pope will come from South America. Just a wild guess, but perhaps the church's resources are now being focused away from the US and toward building schools there. Several years ago, my son and took a trip from New Hampshire to Quebec City. Along the way, we were impressed by beautiful French villages, each one anchored around a recently built Gothic style church. I think the writing is on the wall, The church has downgraded, for whatever reason, its involvement with the US. Look for more closings nationwide.
Kim December 18, 2011 at 05:21 AM
@Ed - Your are correct in your definition of a Christian, however, in the Roman Catholic church they don't have bibles to refer to so how are those attending mass suppose to follow Jesus' teachings? No where in Jesus' teachings does he say "Go through someone else to confess your sins and be forgiven." And where does the "be fruitful and multiply" command from God get taught by the priests since they aren't living examples of this? If the Catholics want to be considered "real" Christians, they need to get the bibles in the hands of the adults, and not just the 12 yrs olds during religion class as yet another 'traditional thing to do'.
Craig December 18, 2011 at 07:01 PM
@Kim - Catholics aren't real Christians because of the way they act? There are words for statements such as that (which as a Christian, I will not label you as). Saying a hateful statement such as this how all of those in your denomination act?
kathryne December 18, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Kim, your prejudice against and ignorance of the Roman Catholic religion is sad. You claim to be a "Christian" yet you seem to have forgotten the central tenet of Jesus' teachings most famously found in Matthew 7:1-6 "Do not judge or you too will be judged". Seems funny that a "Christian" is arrogant enough to usurp God's position. But ignorance and fear seems to be rampant today- it must be nice and safe to spew hatred. God bless you Kim and I hope he shows you a better way to live.

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