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Diocese Reacts to Upcoming La Salle Rally

Reiterates that the enrollment drop was a main factor behind the decision.

Despite a to save school, the Diocese of Rockville Centre reiterated Wednesday that the decision to close is final.

“St. John Baptist de La Salle Regional School has been such an important part of the parish communities of Saint Kilian, Saint James, Saint Martin and Saint Pius X. We recognize that closing a beloved Catholic school is filled with emotion," said Sean P. Dolan, director of communications for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, in a statement.

A said that the school would be one of six Long Island Catholic elementary schools to close this June, as a result of declining enrollment and other factors. Since then parents Rick Pinto, Kim Alloca, Tim Carney, Anthony Scuderi, Michelle Bartone and Heather Funk have spearheaded a plan to save La Salle through a rally, letter-writing/calling campaign to the Diocese and a petition.

The group launched pages on Facebook and Twitter and the website www.savelasalleregional.org, which contains a form letter for parents to send in, flyers to pass out and a petition to sign. A rally is scheduled for Jan. 7 at noon starting at the Village Green and proceeding to the front of the school.

The statement from the Diocese continued on to cite La Salle's 41 percent enrollment drop and said that it is the Diocese's hope that this :

"It is a very difficult decision to close this school as well as the five other schools across Long Island," the statement said. "Like in many public school districts, there has been a significant decline in enrollment at Saint John Baptist de La Salle Regional.  Current K-8 enrollment is 184 students, which represents a 41 percent decline since the 2000-01 school year. The review of enrollment and current and future demographic trends for school-age children do not indicate that a significant increase in enrollment will materialize.  When the time is right, we remind parents  that there are elementary schools nearby who will welcome their children for the 2012-2013 academic year.  With the announced closings, it is our hope that there will be no more school closings beyond Bishop Murphy’s time as bishop.”

La Salle was formed when St. James in Seaford, St. Martin of Tours in Bethpage, 's in Farmingdale and St. Pius X in Plainview all faced low enrollments in 1994 and merged into one regional school. There were originally campuses in both Bethpage and Farmingdale, but the Bethpage campus closed several years back.

Victor Calderone January 04, 2012 at 11:50 PM
They keep on focusing on enrollment but always fail to mention that the school is in the black and making money. They are hiding something and refuse to show us the report.
Victor Calderone January 04, 2012 at 11:51 PM
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Saint-John-the-Baptist-de-La-Salle-Regional-School/220624988015143?ref=ts
Victor Calderone January 04, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Please come join us on Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/groups/149520585155675/#!/events/192092477552610/
L January 05, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I would like to see the complete stats on ALL other Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese, closing or remaining open. I could be very wrong but believe the percentage change since the 2000-01 school year will be very similar throughout most. They are absolutely correct in their statment, "current and future demographic trends for school-age children do not indicate that a significant increase in enrollment will materialize", certainly not without focusing on increasing that enrollment. I must have seriously misunderstood the development of this Advisory Committee, as I believed THAT was the objective. To increase enrollment at the existing schools, develop strategies to promote the schools, work with the state on better funding and make Catholic elementary education a choice that ALL could choose.
Victor Calderone January 05, 2012 at 12:40 AM
It seems like at least one other school has about the same amount of students but was not included in the closures. Why was LaSalle, the only catholic school in area, picked to close? They are afraid to show us the report because they know the numbers are skewed. They didnt include nursery and pre-k in our enrollment numbers. We have a right to see the report
LDB January 05, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Yes, maybe the enrollment data over the past 10 years reflects a decrease. However, in the past 4 years, with stable adminstration, an infusion of some new faculty and the elimination of some ineffective adminstrators, the enrollment has stablized. Also, there are NOT options nearby. The closure of LaSalle created a geographical hole in the region. Look at a map, the MAJORITY of the available schools are south of Sunrise Highway and North of Old Country Road. Clearly, Cathlolic elementary educations is not as easily accessible to the middle class blue collar family.
Joe January 05, 2012 at 01:33 AM
The trials and tribulations from the regionalizing process had a great deal to do with the drop in enrollment! The current administration is excellent and dedicated to the development of the school. The demographic changes they claim in their data is not nearly as drastic as they think. I challenge them to produce their finding for peer review! I'm surprised that the advisory committee had no educators, no one from any parent association. I did notice 'professional executives', but what experience do they have in running a school district? What experience do they have with marketing? Do any have children in the system? NO board member visited the school as they claim. The administration can verify that!
Concerned Parent January 05, 2012 at 02:47 AM
"The Decision is Final". This is an unacceptable response, there are too many questions that paying customers need answered. If the diocese is running the catholic schools as a business then the investors (aka Parents/Guardians) need answers. Here are a few that come to mind: - - What was the direction of the advisory committee, who paid for them, who did they interview? - What is the diocese monetary investment in the school? - How much does the Parish contribute to the running of the school? What will happen to that money if the school does not exist? Who benefits if the school is not around - Responder L and Joe above raises some good questions, how do the schools that stay open enrollment status look, are they comparable? Will they be closed in the future? - The cash raised in good faith for Race For Education, what happened to it? How do the parents and donors get their money back? - The message from the diocese of supporting Catholic Education is incongruent with its actions, there is a record of on-going school closing over the last few years. Why? - Is there a plan for the displaced teachers? How will our place of worship help it's needy? - Are the year-over-year projections of decreased enrollment consistent with that of the public schools? - Was there an effort to solicit alternatives to the school closing? - What are the metrics used by the diocese to determine the confidence level of a school staying open?
LDB January 05, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Concerned Parent - I can answer 3 of your questions - source of my answer is the Pastor of St. Kilian, Fr. Flynn. Cash Raised for Race for Ed - As fundraising has come to a complete stop (understandable), that money will be used to balance out the expenses for the remainder of the school year that future fundraising would have covered. How much does the diocese contribute: they contribute the balance of the rent for the building that Fr. Flynn is not able to cover. Thats it. How much does the parish contribute to the running of the school? - Well St. Kilian contributed $200, 000 anually. Once LaSalle is closed, they will still be expected to contribute 15% of revenue from collections to the DRVC towards Catholic education (as do all parishes). A noteworthy point is that St. Kilian Parish is actually going to be worse off financially now that the school is closing because they own the building and will have to cover the rent exclusively. Fr. Flynn stated that if he had any idea that the school was closing he would not have built the new Parish Outreach Building ( he could havee used the school building). THEREFORE - the closing of this school does not only effect the familes of those attending - but the entire Parish community. Your other questions are excellent - and we need to work towards getting those answers!
Thomas Joseph Jr January 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I have a question, I hope someone can answer. I am a graduate of St. Kilian's, graduating in the 80s. They mention enrollment is 184 for the entire school. Where as my graduating class then was around 60, which is about one third in the school now. Does it make sense fianancially to have a school, where it is not benfiting a significant amount of students? The other elementary schools in Farmingdale have about 4 or 5 classrooms for each grade in 4 schools. Based on the numbers, there can't be more than 1 class per grade. People may say the education is better, but do the educational benefits outweigh the fiscal responsibilities?
Victor Calderone January 05, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Thomas, While LaSalles enrollment may be down-it is still in the black. Our financial responsibilites have been met. We were not given any warning to this closing and enrollment was the only reason that was given. They wont show the parents the report. WHY? Also-for some reason they didnt include nursery and pre-k in the enrollment totals. That brings us over 200. They are playing with numbers and they dont care about our children.
Joe January 05, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Thomas, Better or same should not be the only factor here, and it's not a question of public vs private. The dominant issue is the availability of a catholic school education. As LDB pointed out, there will now be a large track of Long Island where catholic education no longer exists. In this aspect I find the Bishop's strategic plan to be hypocritical. Advertising and marketing are big issue here as well. For example, most people do not know that LaSalle offers Pre K with options for pre-care and after-care, and cheaper than most Daycare?
LDB January 05, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Thomas, does this make financial sense to whom? If it is operating in the black, and we are meeting our responsibilities of providing salaries and benefits for all employed - why does it matter that the number is smaller. Of course we would want it to grow - it needs to grow to survive. But as poster Joe mentions, this is not public vs private issue. Both have the potential to provide excellent educations. It IS about the right to choose, availability to all, and about making smart financial decisions. This school was doing fine. The Bishop made a mistake.
Thomas Joseph Jr January 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
My questions were meant to find out more, not to spark anger. From the response, I can see many of you are very passionate about it. I am not taking sides, but really trying to get more information. Someone states the school is operating in the black, and you have not seen the books. How do you know the school is really operating in the black? Does this operating costs take into account the building, utilities, etc.? I mentioned about the money issues and the financial side, but I have a feeling it is not all about money. If the school is operating in the black, could the reason be because of the low enrollment? They closed schools to combine students, couldn't they be doing it again? Someone stated you need growth to survive? Where is the growth coming from? Wouldn't a school closing contribute to the growth? If not LaSalle, wouldn't a different school closing have the same impact among its parents as LaSalle? How does closing the school impact the community as another has said? I know some will still look to go to a Catholic school. Others will be absorbed into the public school system, but how many are living in the Farmingdale School District. Since LaSalle was to absorb from St. James, St. Martin and St. Pius, I would not think the impact would be so great. I am justing looking at it from all angles.
Anthony January 06, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Thomas, I feel compelled to respond to you, my answers are in the same order you posed your questions:1.Father Flynn stated the school has been "in the black for the past 2 years". Yes, as per Father Flynn the carry costs are included therewith, specifically a fee paid by the school in the amount of $140,000 annually which is above the mandatory offerings that each LaSalle family contributes.2. I dont know how to reply to a comment that closure equates to growth as you are eluding. But, to answer where the growth is coming from the Village of Farmingdale has undergone a multi-year study by professional planners and economists to reverse the trends being seen throughout Long Island where populations are in decline specifically with the younger age groups. The Village's plan contains specific steps to accomplish economic / smart growth. The Bishop never considered these steps nor were the Village Planners consulted. 3. Ask the LaSalle staff who was advised that they would be unemployed come June how this affects the community. Further, many students will be forced to abandon a faith based education by virtue of geography and/or economics. I support faith based education and believe it makes better, stronger young Catholic adults. I would think as a St Kilian alumnist that you would share this view, but now more than ever as the church should be encouraging people to move closer to their faith the actions of the Bishop are to the contrary.

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