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Six LI Catholic Elementary Schools to Close

Diocese of Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy said "like public schools, we must face the harsh reality that we no longer need as many school buildings as we may have had in the past."

The Diocese of Rockville Centre is closing six of its 53 elementary schools on Long Island at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

According to the Diocese of RVC website, the six schools that will close are:

  • St. John Baptist de La Salle Regional School (Farmingdale)
  • St. Catherine of Sienna School (Franklin Square)
  • St. Ignatius Loyola School (Hicksville)
  • Sacred Heart School (North Merrick)
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help School (Lindenhurst)
  • Prince of Peace Regional School (Sayville)

Along with the aforementioned schools, Diocese of Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy said he has asked five schools, three in Suffolk County and two in Nassau County, to form a "strategic collaboration." It wasn't clear what that collaboration would include.  

The remaining 42 schools will remain open next year.

The decision to close the six schools was arrived at for various reasons, including what Murphy described as "changing demographics and difficult national and local economic conditions."

Murphy also said that his Bishop’s Advisory Committee on Catholic Education completed a thorough evaluation of each of the elementary schools on Long Island. The evaluation took into account enrollment and school age demographic trends, the financial position of schools and parishes, and a review of the facilities, technology and programs offered.

"Given the decline in school-age population 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 we may have had in the past," Murphy said.

Marc December 07, 2011 at 06:42 PM
" It is enough to make you become a Jew..." I think, Lisa, you have actually missed the CRUX of the comment...
Marc December 07, 2011 at 06:51 PM
J. Marshall: It can be taken differently predicated on many things. I, nor apparently Dale, did not see it your way. And frankly, I disagree that your interpretation was the intent. However, I think we need to hear from Janice.
Marc December 07, 2011 at 07:17 PM
I was aware of that, and never really saw that as the issue to contend with as it was pretty obvious. I was pointing out the REAL issue seems to being ignored untilJ. Marshall stepped in, and I sent him my thoughts. I am not, at all, trying to be clever. I am treading light to offend no one, as has been done above...for quite obvious reasons.
Marc December 07, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Sorry for the misunderstanding...did't see the "@ DALE."
Dale from Farmingdale December 07, 2011 at 09:12 PM
@Lisa: Thanx...I agree that I misinterpreted "community" as township (this was certainly unclear), rather than Catholic, however, MARC is correct that regardless, the verbiage "It is enough to make you become a Jew..." is what I found offensive; that statement had nothing to do with the "community" misunderstanding. Apparently, Amanda agreed, b/c it was deleted from this post after I flagged it as inappropriate. Thanx, Marc for trying.
Tanii C. December 08, 2011 at 12:50 AM
Hey can the town reclaim these school properties and maybe make some money off the property or is the Church just going to sit on this lovely tax free land forever? Ok this is eating me up because the racist was thrown into the mix in a discussion about religion and I know it's splitting hairs but you cannot be "racist" towards a religious group because a religion is not a race, it's a religion. Again I know it's splitting hairs but discrimination is a better word to describe the sentiment felt by Dale from Farmingdale at Janice's comment. again I know it's splitting hairs but when the racist word comes up it gets my spidey senses going.
Helen December 08, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Can we get BACK ON TOPIC HERE? Why does every opinion column turn into tirades and rants? Ignore the comments posted that are ridiculous - flag them if you want - and go on people....I am wondering about what Tanii added in - what will become of the property (ies).....Our Lady of Lourdes in Pequa lies empty to the best of my knowledge - one year later and back to my original question - what will become of the public schools and "overcrowding"??
Concerned Citizen December 08, 2011 at 01:46 AM
On topic or not, its not acceptable to ignore a comment like: "It is enough to make you become a Jew..." unless, of course, you agree. The comment was, sensibly, deleted, so maybe you were late to the party. As it was deleted, all can go back "on topic" and stop expressins there feelings in public.
Ray December 08, 2011 at 04:17 AM
I didn't see the comment, but I join those who are outraged by the "It is enough to make you become a Jew" comment. While I do understand what Helen is saying about ignoring the comments by people who aren't worthy of something intelligent to say, I also understand Concerned Citizen's comment by it's not acceptable to ignore a comment as ugly as that. I feel for the parishes that are losing their school, but it's the economic reality of today. Tanii - the town cannot "reclaim" this property because it is owned by the church. My guess is that the Diocese will sell these properties and there's a good chance that the sales will turn the properties onto the tax rolls. I do wonder if the Diocese took the market value of the properties into account when deciding which schools to close... I also question the timing of the announcement -why in the season of Advent, right before Christmas?
Rosemarie Stauber December 08, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Be assured that the property, including the LaSalle school building, will continue to be put to good use, despite the sad news that the school is closing. I am familiar with other surrounding Catholic parishes that have had to close their schools, and these parishes continue to make good use of their school buildings - for religious education classes initially and for much needed meeting space. Thankfully, the earlier poster stated that this property does belong to the church and, most likely, will not be sold and be returned to the tax roles. In this crazy world, many of us, myself included, need and want our places of worship, with their properties intact, to remain available for our needs. On another note - it's a damm shame that so many of the comments on this article took such a prejudicial slant - last I looked, we are all God's children......irregardless of whatever faith we choose to practice or not.
lisa December 08, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Back to the REAL issue, it is unfortunate the catholic schools are closing, I don't think the diocese is to blame though, I also don't think they "suck" as one so eloquently put it,nor did they decide to close the schools to pay for their legal fees(didn't flag you though) YES they collect money , so do temples and all other houses of worship.( hope I didnt offend) My neighbor and friend sends her children to Catholic schools , she puts it like this- the kids have never been to Disney, don't have designer sneakers , PS3 or even a smartphone, they as a family "sacrifice" those things for their education choice, they seem happy enough. I asked the question posted above to her about timing and she explained it was because Catholic Schools Week starts in January and there is a lot of preparation for weeks ahead , also thats when enrollment for the next year begins. Why not earlier then? Probably because the new school year started and really when would be a good time for such disappointing news? Most schools that have closed do not get sold, I have never seen that happen, but please excuse me if you know of any. I dont think the diocese looked at property values- The two local ones that are still open have pretty good property value and as I stated the ones that closed in the past have not been sold- I believe the diocese explained they look at demographics, technology and enrollment.
Ray December 08, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Catholic Schools week begins January 29th - the announcement could have waited until early January, but then again, is there ever a good time to announce when schools are closed? I don't blame the diocese either for closing schools - as I stated, it's the economic reality of today. A Sacred Heart school board member was quoted in the Merrick Patch saying that the Diocese states their enrollment is 160 when it's actually 230 and the enrollment has been increasing over the past few years since a new principal took over. She also stated that the parent associations raised over $120,000 in fundraising last year. This says to me that this school may very well have been worth saving. As for what to do with the buildings, are they owned by the parishes or by the Diocese? Was that a factor in making the decision? I hope not. The reason I bring up selling the property is because the Bishop just sold the Diocesan building in Rockville Centre. As for schools being sold, I'm not sure but I think the school building of Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead was sold awhile back.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Sorry Pet Peeve of Mine. WHile I can accept the school is a property tax free space it is unconscionable that people balk at the reverting of this space to the tax rolls. If the property is not regularly used for religious purposes i want it returned to secular use. Every dollar not collected for this property or any religious owned property in property taxes is more property taxes I have to pay. So I am paying for every Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish, Baptist and Methodist congregant to not only worship but to hold land for investment, offices for their administration and housing for their leaders. The land for the thrift shop next to the Methodist church is owned by the Methodist church and no property taxes are paid on it. This is regardless of your feelings on religion. St. Luke's is a wonderful church and Christmas is lovely there but St Killians is huge is bigger than the congregation most Sundays and the Jewish Center is closed and we are paying for it. Remember Vatican City is the wealthiest country per capita.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Everyone's property taxes would be (in my mind) significantly lower if the current tax code wasn't geared towards allowing religions a free ride. Next time you drive around town count how many places of worship and properties owned by religion you see. Calculate based on your own taxes how much their tax bill would be and realize that it means if all religions paid property taxes for their property it would mean a 5%-10% reduction in your property taxes
Rosemarie Stauber December 08, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Mr.Marshall: Up until your last 2 posts, I have been impressed with, and in general agreement with, your comments. These latest comments disappointment me. Whether the church property is used for administrative or whatever purposes - that is their deceision to make, as owners of the property. Remember, we can never forget that one of the main reasons this country was founded was to afford everyone religious freedom. In my opinion, that religious freedom includes any house of woships' decision to do what they feel is best with the property the house of worship owns. While I fully understand, with my financial background, the tax impact we all bear in these harsh economic times - the tax code is written as such that religious institutions are exempt from taxes - that's just the way it is. You wouldn't want anyone telling you, while observing current residential zoning laws, what you could use your residential property for? I know I wouldn't, and I would think you would not as well. This situation is really the same thing........
James M. December 08, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Rosemarie while I appreciate your support for many of my ideas, you must understand I am a Jeffersonian Christian. I believe in the absolute separation of church and state. The tax code is challenged regularly and there are cases working there way through the courts to remove the tax exempt status for property taxes for religions. I am proposing a thought where all religions are treated as the businesses they are. Does St Killian's regularly feed the homeless? What does St. Killian's do with all of there donations? They pay employees and maintain properties. My proposal is each religious institution gets one property and that property has to be the size and shape of the house of worship and it cannot be a residential property.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 04:14 PM
I'll explain my thinking. In upstate NY there is a group that has purchased over 100 acres as religious property. They do not pay any real estate taxes nor school taxes. They have built housing on the property and many of their congregants are living on the property year round. They are sending their children to the local school. The local school had to hire more teachers and is taxing their residents at much the same rate as Long Island taxes. The members of this congregation also are demanding utilities such as sewer be brought to there property at the cost of the county. So this group of religious people are forcing the residents of this town to pay for them to live for free. I took these lessons and applied them to LI. The Baptist Church on Conklin, St. Luke's, St. Killian's etc. THe Baptist Church more than the others because they took over large revenue producing properties and turned them into non revenue producing property. Taxes go up. Then I drove around Long Island and found multiple churches that were even larger and I'd say between 10-15% of LI is under religious control. Then I discovered that there are a number of properties that are under religious control that are being held for investment. So now religions are buying property to hold for a profit.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Then I discovered that some parishioners are giving property to religions and then instead of selling the property the religion is giving the $500K house to their Priest or administrator or other people within their organization so now these people are living in a residential house and not paying any taxes for the services they receive. Then I found out that some religions are using their house for "worship" once a week and having their personal home declared as a religious site and not having to pay taxes anymore. So there a number of properties around Long Island that are not "houses of worship" that are off the tax rolls as religious sites and are personal residences and investments not actual religious sites. I wanted to come up with a fair way to tax these properties while still reluctantly giving religion an advantage. My theory is that only the main house of worship with no residential and a parking lot half the size continues as non taxable while charging the church for their business activities of owning real estate for personal gain. Again while I can appreciate your fervor for your religion understand I am looking for the best way to help everyone not any one particular group over another.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Here is a wonderful article by a Valpo Prof on the subject http://scholar.valpo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1546&context=vulr&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dchallenge%2520to%2520tax%2520exempt%2520religion%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D2%26ved%3D0CCQQFjAB%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscholar.valpo.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1546%2526context%253Dvulr%26ei%3DgOfgTrqhAsXo0QGem6HMDg%26usg%3DAFQjCNEzCQOs6s_rkco9HHzIPTT5P_VjgQ#search=%22challenge%20tax%20exempt%20religion%22
Rosemarie Stauber December 08, 2011 at 04:57 PM
You asked if St. Kilian’s parish regularly feeds the homeless. I am proud to tell you that St. KIlian's has an extensive Parish Social Ministry/Outreach Office. The Thanksgiving Food Drive serviced 345 people in need last month. This ministry regularly provides food, assistance with employment, utilities, basic needs of living, etc. There are currently 132 families registered with the Outreach Office in order to get help over the holidays. In fact, a sizable donation was made to the parish to be specifically used in the Social Ministry/Outreach area - this donation is being used to replace a falling apart parish owned building with a new one in order to better support many Long Islanders in need. The parish departments who previously had space in the falling apart building are being relocated elsewhere on parish owned property. Now - let's take this one step further - if St. Kilian's did not have this program and the generous support of all those in the Fdale community, then some other entity would have to fulfill this need. Our taxes could potentially increase to support this cost if that other entity was government related. Now, since I am unfamiliar with what being a Jeffersonian Christian means, I need to look that up.......
James M. December 08, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Congratulations to St. Killian's for still meeting the needs of the community. Now I don't mean this to be mean but what percentage of their budget is used to support charitable activities? 10%? 20%? What percentage of donations are used for administrative salaries and costs? I hear stories of these televangilist pastors who make millions and live in million dollar homes and their average parishioner is making minimum wage and I wonder what happened to the poor carpenter from Nazareth
Rosemarie Stauber December 08, 2011 at 06:24 PM
While I don't have access to a line item financial statement of the parish, I can tell you that the collection for an entire weekend was recently earmarked for charity. That happens every year at this time and charitable donations occur at other times throughout the year as well. However, I have been in the parish rectory many times over the years. The rectory is the home for our parish priests and the offices of the parish - it's a modest home and I have never had any financial concerns that donations have not been spent appropriately in any of my many years as a parishioner.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Rosemarie again I can appreciate this single situation where you have a congregation that appears to be doing the right thing, but like gov't, I expect someone is unfairly earning a profit or avoiding an expense at religious institutions. Should that administrator who is the daughter of one of the board members be paid 20% more than the going market for their job? Should this person be allowed to live in a home owned by the church for free? Again I am not saying St Killian's in particular is doing these things but the questions should be asked of our gov't and religions. Let's take the Jewish Community Center. Do you believe they paid $2M to $2.5M for the property when they bought it? Do you believe it is fair to the Farmingdale Community that this space remains empty for over 4 years with no religious services or activities taking place? Do you think it is fair that many of their members don't even live in the Farmingdale neighborhood anymore and therefore a group outside Farmingdale are profiting from Farmingdale residents having to pay increased Property taxes to accommodate them?
James M. December 08, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Let me ask this in a different way? THere is a Buddhist Monk that wants to build a temple in Farmingdale and they buy Airport Plaza which is a major source of income for the Town of Farmingdale. They get the money from Tibet to build their temple. It is a wonderful huge temple that can seat 10,000 members with parking and has "dormitories" for the memebers. After two years there are 200 parishioners. Is it FAIR to Farmingdale Residents who are not Buddhists to increase their taxes 20% to cover the loss of income for these 200 parishioners? I'm not asking what the law and tax code are, I am aware. From a hypothetical, philosophical view is it fair for the thousands of Farmingdale Residents to fork over 20% additional to cover the loss of income?
Frank December 08, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Nowadays, we seem to close schools with impunity, regardless of the (negative) impact it has on children. But God Forbid we close Old Mill Court. We are more inclined to dole out subsides and welfare than to keep schools that care open to children whose only solace is those brick and mortar institutions. Where on Earth are our priorities? Education is the cornerstone of our society. It is the means in which we mint good citizens and the gateway for individual success in adulthood. Costs aside, schools of any type and denomination should remain open. We keep subsidized housing around, no matter how much it costs this town/county/state.
James M. December 08, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Below is from an article in the NY times But in some communities like South Bend, tolerance of religious tax breaks is fraying as local governments struggle to provide basic services with limited resources. There are no national figures on how much money these tax breaks save religious organizations and on how much extra cost is shifted to other citizens. But a typical state, Colorado, reported that religious real estate valued at more than $1.1 billion was exempt from local property taxes there last year. Nationally, tax-exempt financing for religious organizations totaled at least $20 billion during the decade that ended last year.
Frank December 08, 2011 at 10:22 PM
About the Bishop's remark on fewer school-age children on Long Island, the answer is two-fold. One, many young adults of socially acceptable childbearing age are leaving LI in droves for cheaper pastures. There are many factors to the phenomenon, but the key is that LI is simply too expensive, especially for those that are saddled with oppressive college debt. Many simply want to move out of the parent's basement. Two, there is a significant population of school-age children on LI that are unregistered, due to their parents' illegal resident status. Given that state funds are based on the number of registered schoolchildren, many go unaccounted and with it those funds.
Ted Bolton December 12, 2011 at 01:38 PM
I cannot speak for the other schools, however enrollment at Sacred Heart School has increased the past few years. Unfortunately, the Bishop's study conveniently opted to exclude Pre-K and Kindergarten students from their "analysis". So the stated rationale, at least as far as Sacred Heart is concerned, is inaccurate. Anyone from the Diocese like to comment ?
Ray December 12, 2011 at 01:59 PM
You would think that pre-k and Kindergarten enrollments would factor in when considering the future of a school. I am sorry that your school is closing Ted.
genmongel February 27, 2012 at 02:21 PM
in this day and age its all about the roommoney, high tiution and over crowded class rooms in the catholic schools.... I send my kids to catholic school for religion purposes and the idea of smaller classes so my children can get more attention in the classroom....Due to school closings 2 yrs ago my kids are in classrooms of 30 + kids. I have one child who they say falls in between the cracks( what this mean) i have to pay extra money on top of tuition to bring my child up to grade level (huntington learning center). is this fair.... they need these schools to stay open so these kids can get the education that our hard earn money is paying for....... I've been involved with private schools all my life and they can care less about education or religious values it's all about the money and how many kids they can pack into a classroom and over charge of education that the kids arent receiving.....Very disappointed


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