2 Long Island Catholic schools closing in June

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RONKONKOMA -

The Diocese of Rockville Centre says St. Joseph School in Ronkonkoma and All Saints Regional School in Glen Cove will shut their doors this June because of declining enrollment.

"This was a difficult decision -- one that was made after much thought and prayer," the diocese said in a statement.

St. Joseph's has seen a 31 percent drop in enrollment over the past five years. All Saints Regional School saw enrollment decline 27 percent. Low enrollment and increased operating costs have put stress on the local parishes to keep up with the bills.

In the past year alone, four Catholic schools have closed on Long Island. The diocese closed Our Lady of Lourdes in West Islip and Bishop McGann Mercy High School in Riverhead. It also merged two elementary schools: Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue and St. Isidore School in Riverhead.

Rosemary Balkam worked as a secretary at St. Joseph School for 25 years. She says the Catholic school closings are a sad sign of the times.

"They need a lot of maintenance to heat them and if you don't have the enrollment, you're not going to do it," she says.

The diocese plans to hold open houses in the coming weeks to provide parents with information about transferring their kids to other Catholic schools within the diocese.

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