St. Peter's by-the-Sea Day School to close

Officials of St. Peter's by-the-Sea Day School in Bay Shore announced Wednesday that the 40-year-old academy, with students in kindergarten through seventh grade, will close at the end of June. An affiliated preschool program will continue to operate.

Officials of the school run by St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church said shrinking enrollment and finances drove the decision.

About 72 students and 10 school staffers will be affected, officials said. The day school and preschool employ a total of about 25 workers.


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The vestry, in a message posted on both the church and day-school websites, said more than $800,000 in parish funds have been invested in recent years to try to preserve the day school, but the effort proved "unsustainable."

With its closure, St. Peter's day school will join "a long list" of private and religious schools on Long Island forced to shut down or cut back operations in recent years, the message said.

"Our decision is heartbreaking, but unavoidable," the vestry concluded.

Members of the vestry voted Tuesday night, with several abstentions, for the restructuring.

St. Peter's Early Childhood Learning program, which includes toddlers, nursery-school students and pre-kindergartners, enrolls 72 children. In contrast, only eight students are in the day school's seventh grade this year.

John Cochrane, a former Suffolk County treasurer who serves as a warden, or chief board officer, of St. Peter's vestry, voiced hope in a phone interview that day-school operations might someday be restored. Three of his grandsons attended preschool there.

"It was one of those difficult decisions, but one that had to be made," said Cochrane, whose family has attended the church for more than 100 years. "I'm happy that we didn't have to close down the entire school, and hopefully we'll have a turnaround."

The Rev. David Sellery, the church's rector, expressed gratitude to parish leaders for their hard work in restructuring the school program and to "all those who have played a role in the day school's proud legacy."

"I know some families are going to be disappointed, but I feel I have to support the vestry in their decision," said the Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which covers Suffolk, Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn.

Parish-run Episcopal day schools continue to operate in Massapequa and in three areas of Brooklyn, Provenzano said.

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