As part of a long-term effort to revitalize and strengthen Catholic education on Long Island, the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced that it will consolidate two elementary schools and close a diocesan high school that are no longer viable.
Enrollment at the three schools, all on the eastern end of the island, has fallen 37 percent since 2011. The high school alone was subsidized $16.3 million from 2007 through last school year and is expected to require an additional $2.3 million in support this school year.
The enrollment decline partially reflects a 6.2 percent drop in the school-age population in Suffolk County between 2011 and 2016 – a loss of 19,000 children.
The diocese will combine Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue and St. Isidore School in Riverhead into a new Nursery through Grade 8 school on the St. Isidore site. The new school will be named St. John Paul II Regional School.
The diocese also will close Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan H.S., Riverhead and will offer students the opportunity to enroll at St. John the Baptist Diocesan H.S., West Islip. The diocese will provide transportation, guidance counseling and tuition grants to students who continue at one of the diocesan schools.
These three schools will close at the end of the current school year in June, and St. John Paul II Regional School will open in September, 2018.
The graying of Long Island’s population has caused significant challenges for all schools – public, Catholic and private – reducing the available number of school-age children. The effects of this decline have been even more pronounced on Long Island’s east end.