Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre announced on Dec. 5 that the St. Catherine of Sienna School in Franklin Square will close next June, due to dwindling enrollment and Long Island’s weak economy.
In a letter to parents of St. Catherine students, Murphy wrote that the decision to close the school was based on a recommendation by his Advisory Committee on Catholic Education, after an “extensive strategic review and careful deliberations of each school” of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Murphy established the 19-member committee — which includes officials from the diocese and the New York State Education Department — in 2009, amid Catholic schools’ declining enrollment.
The diocese is also planning to close three other local schools next June — Sacred Heart School in North Merrick, the St. John Baptist De LaSalle Regional School in Farmingdale and St. Ignatius Loyola School in Hicksville — as well as two Suffolk County schools, Prince of Peace Regional School in Sayville and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Lindenhurst.
”I want to assure the parents and children affected by this that they and their children are uppermost in my mind and in my heart,” Murphy wrote in the letter. “My goal was to make decisions now that will allow us to say that there will be no more school closings beyond my time as your bishop.”
In addition to the closings, the diocese is requesting that five schools collaborate during the 2012-13 school year in order to remain open long-term, two of which are in Nassau County: the St. Dominic School in Oyster Bay and St. Edward the Confessor School in Syosset. “... We, like many public school districts, must face the harsh reality that we no longer need as many school buildings as we may have had in the past,” Murphy wrote.
As of next September, the diocese will oversee 47 grammar schools, down from 53.