The Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre has announced that two of its schools, All Saints Regional Catholic School, in Glen Cove, and St. Joseph School, in Ronkonkoma, will close at the end of the school year because of steadily declining enrollment.
Nursery-school to eighth-grade enrollment at All Saints shrank by 27 percent from September 2013 to September 2018, to 143 students. According to the diocese, the drop is attributable to changes in the population of Glen Cove and surrounding communities.
Diane Dubicki, of Glen Cove, sent several of her children to All Saints, and her daughter, Janina, is a seventh-grader there. Fighting back tears, Dubicki said that the school’s imminent closure is distressing because her daughter had only one year left there before starting high school. Instead she will be forced to transfer to a new school, where she may not know any of her classmates. Janina has been enrolled at All Saints since pre-kindergarten, her mother said, and is sad about being separated from her friends.
“Everybody is very upset, because it’s like a family over there,” Diane said.
The declining enrollment at All Saints has led to a sharp decrease in school funding from tuition and fundraisers. As a result, the diocese and the five regional parishes that support the school have been forced to increase their financial contributions. From the 2013-14 school year through 2017-18, two Glen Cove parishes — St. Patrick’s and the Church of St. Rocco — as well as St. Bonafice Martyr in Sea Cliff, St. Hyacinth in Glen Head and St. Mary in Roslyn, provided $1.88 million in operational support, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre contributed an additional $1.46 million. This year, the five parishes are expected to chip in another $370,000, alongside an anticipated $450,000 core contribution from the diocese.
According to a statement issued by the diocese, the increased spending has made it impossible for the diocese and the parishes to continue to support the school.
“This was a difficult decision — one that was made after much thought and prayer,” said Kathleen Walsh, superintendent of schools for the diocese’s Department of Education. The diocese will be available to help parents select the right Catholic elementary school for their children, she added.
Even so, several parents have said that they expect the upcoming process to be stressful and painful. Janine Fakiris, of Glen Cove, who has been heavily involved in All Saints for years, as a parent of three students as well as a member of the PTA, said she was shocked by the news of its closure. “I’m extremely sad,” Fakiris said, “because all my children went through there.” While her children no longer attend, she has a niece who is still in kindergarten there.
She chose All Saints as her family’s school, Fakiris said, because of its smaller setting, friendly atmosphere and dedication to providing students with the best Catholic education possible. She added that she believed that the cost of tuition contributed to the decline in enrollment. “I think it’s because people aren’t able to afford the Catholic school education,” she said, “especially if you have multiple children.”
Four other Catholic schools in Nassau County — St. Catherine Sienna School, in Franklin Square, Sacred Heart Elementary, in Merrick, St. John Baptist De LaSalle Regional School, in Farmingdale, and St. Ignatius Loyola School, in Hicksville — closed in 2010. Dubicki said she believed that many parents feared that All Saints would be next, which prompted them to take their children out of the school to ensure that they secured spots in other Catholic schools.
Regardless, Dubicki said, she could not have asked for a better school for her children. “I felt the academic dean and the headmaster — if I needed to talk to them about something, they would always make time,” she recalled, adding that she saw the same level of support for other parents and students. “The families were always willing to help to do things without hesitation,” she added. “I’m glad that I sent [my children] there for as long as they’ve been there.”
Many parents remained active in the school long after their children left, Dubicki said, because there was always a sense of community. “I will definitely miss being part of the All Saints Regional family,” she said.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre did not respond to repeated requests for comment.