Blessed Sacrament School in Valley Stream is closing.

Blessed Sacrament School in Valley Stream is closing. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Diocese of Rockville Centre Tuesday announced that the Blessed Sacrament Elementary School in Valley Stream will close in June because of declining enrollment and mounting red ink.

It was the third Catholic elementary school shut on Long Island in the past year.

"It is always sad when a Catholic school has to close," said Sister Joanne Callahan, superintendent of schools for the diocese. "But projected enrollment at Blessed Sacrament made it educationally and financially impossible for the school to continue."

Asked whether more shutdowns could come soon, Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said, "We do not plan to announce any additional school closings in the near future."

Until last year, the diocese had bucked a national trend and avoided the shuttering of any elementary schools for a five-year stretch.

But in January it announced the closing of the Corpus Christi Elementary School in Mineola. That was followed by the shutdown of Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School in Massapequa Park.

Enrollment at Blessed Sacrament, an ethnically diverse K-8 school, has fallen from about 265 in 2005 to 157 now, the diocese said. It received a subsidy of more than $300,000 from the Blessed Sacrament parish this year, said the parish pastor, the Rev. Peter Dugandzic.

"This is not something I wanted to do or that anybody wants to do," Dugandzic said. But "a perfect storm just brewed over this particular parish and made this decision inevitable."

Dugandzic said part of the reason for declining enrollment, besides the recession, was that many non-Catholics are moving into the area.

Students at Blessed Sacrament will be able to transfer to neighboring Catholic schools, the diocese said. An informational meeting where parents can meet principals of the other schools is set for Jan. 20.

Dugandzic said walking through the Blessed Sacrament school was "like being at the United Nations," with a mix of students from Haitian, Latin American and Filipino immigrant communities.

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