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Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville to close, diocese says

Cars pass Our Lady of Mercy School in

Cars pass Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville in 2014.   Credit: Howard Schnapp

Our Lady of Mercy School, a Catholic K-8 school in Hicksville, will close at the end of this academic year because of declining enrollment and tuition revenue, the Diocese of Rockville Centre said Tuesday.

The school was established nearly 60 years ago by the Sisters of Mercy, and its closing “is a great loss to the students, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff and volunteers who have served the school so faithfully during its history,” the diocese said in a statement.

Enrollment dropped from 368 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the 2012-13 school year to its current 104 students, diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said. That amounted to a 72% decrease.

Its nursery school saw similar declines over the same period, he said, suggesting a reversal in the drop-off was unlikely.

The declining enrollment meant increasing financial pressures for the parish as well as the diocese, Dolan said.

“From the 2012-13 school year through the 2018-19 school year, the parish has provided a total of $2.36 million in operating support and the Diocese of Rockville Centre has provided almost $500,000 in additional core contribution,” he said in a statement.

The parish subsidy for the 2018-19 school year accounted for 52 percent of total parish collections, cutting heavily into the funds available for the rest of parish operations.

In the current school year, the parish is expected to provide at least $400,000 in operating subsidy, while the diocese is expected to provide approximately $200,000.

“This level of financial dependence on the parish and diocese is not sustainable,” Dolan said.

Students at the school will be accepted at any other Catholic grammar school in the diocese for the coming school year, the diocese said.

Nearby schools include Holy Family School in Hicksville, St. Edward the Confessor School in Syosset and St. Patrick’s School in Huntington.

The closing is the latest in a number of shutdowns that have hit what for decades was the largest school system on Long Island, with tens of thousands of students.

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, one of three Catholic high schools run directly by the diocese, closed in 2018. At the same time, two Catholic elementary schools on the East End were merged into one.

The number of students in the system has dropped from about 40,000 in the early 1990s to about 25,000 today, according to diocesan officials.

Church officials say part of the decline in recent years is due to a drop in the overall student population on Long Island, along with the difficulty of parents paying tuition on top of local taxes.

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