The Bishop-McGann Mercy Diocesan High School Class of 2015.
File photo courtesy of Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School

Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School will be closing its doors at the end of the current school year, the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced today.

St. Isidore School in Riverhead and Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue will also close at the end of the 2017/18 school year, the diocese said and the two schools will be combined into a new school to be named the St. John Paul II Regional School, on the property that currently houses St. Isidore’s, the diocese said. The new school will serve students from nursery through eighth grade.

The diocese cited declining enrollment as the reason for the closures. The three schools have seen a 37 percent decline in combined enrollment since 2011. Falling enrollment numbers have a negative impact on education quality and financial viability, the diocese said.

McGann-Mercy students will be consolidated into “the large and vibrant school community of St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip,” according to the announcement, which was posted on the diocese’s website today.

“This was a difficult decision and we deeply regret the pain and disruption this will cause to our parents and students and to the dedicated teachers and administrators who have served this school so faithfully,” the announcement says.

Bishop McGann-Mercy was founded as Mercy High School in 1956 by the Sisters of Mercy. It was housed in a temporary building until its current building was completed and dedicated in 1962. That same year, St. Isidore School opened its doors on Marcy Avenue. Riverhead at that time already had one Catholic elementary school: St. John the Evangelist, operated by the parish on Roanoke Avenue. St. John’s closed its doors in 2003, also citing declining enrollment as well as a high debt burden.

Bishop McGann-Mercy currently has a total enrollment of 365 in grades seven to 12 and 312 students in grades nine to 12. This year’s graduating class is 91 students, while the incoming class is just 55 student, the diocese said. From 2007 through the 2016-2017 school year, diocesan entities have provided subsidies of $16.3 million to the school and are expected to provide an additional $2.3 million of support in the current school year, according to a press release issued by the diocese this evening.

St. Isidore School, with 104 enrolled students in kindergarten through eighth grade, is expected to require a subsidy from the parish and diocese of approximately $475,000 for this school year, the diocese said.

At Our Lady of Mercy Regional, enrollment has declined to 53 students in kindergarten through sixth grade with just three students in the first Grade. The school is anticipated to require a subsidy from the supporting parishes and diocese of approximately $600,000 for the current school year, according to the press release.

“Strengthening enrollment at St. John Paul II Regional School in Riverhead and at our remaining diocesan high schools will create a more vibrant and effective Catholic educational environment,” said Dr. Kathleen Walsh, superintendent of schools for the diocese. “We are deeply committed to providing the best Catholic educational experience possible across all 55 elementary and secondary schools in the diocese.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated after its initial publication to include additional information provided by the Diocese of Rockville Centre in a press release issued at 6 p.m. as well as additional information about the history of the local Catholic schools.

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