By Mark Hallum
Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in Bayside will close its doors to merge with the Douglaston campus only two miles away, a Brooklyn Diocese spokeswoman confirmed.
Students and staff will be fully accommodated by the Douglaston facility in the 2018-19 school year because of declining enrollment and demographic changes in the communities served by the schools, according to diocese spokeswoman Carolyn Erstad, and because of increased capacity at the Douglaston campus, at 45-11 245th St.
Divine Wisdom’s school secretary, Kathy Furlong, expressed a positive outlook for the change, saying that a 4,000-square-foot expansion completed in September will create a better educational environment for students who, Erstad said, travel to Douglaston weekly as it is.
A diocese press release said enrollment at the Bayside Campus, at 58-10 214th St., had declined by 10 percent in the past year, which Erstad attributed to people moving away from the city and new residents not sending their children to Catholic schools. One other school under the purview of diocese also shut its doors this week, St. Pancras School in Glendale.
A city Department of Education spokesman could not confirm whether or not there were plans to take over the Bayside campus to relieve some of the overcrowding in District 26, which is among the highest-performing in the city.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) spoke of addressing this issue through using available land in College Point in September, but the idea also contended with the fact many students would have to be bused into area dominated by marshland.
The Brooklyn Diocese seems to be making changes not only to schools in Queens, with the former rectory at St. Anastasia in Douglaston to be rented out to Services for the UnderServed to care for developmentally challenged adults.
The move required approval from Community Board 11, which granted it with a nearly unanimous vote in December to allow the not-for-profit to operate out the building at 45-14 245th St.
Doris Figueroa, senior vice president of developmental disabilities services at SUS, said SUS has several similar facilities across the city. Figueroa said the eight residents are being moved from another facility that is larger but lacks some of the accessibility standards needed for the residents.
About $450,000 will be spent renovating the former church annex to make it ADA-accessible for the residents.
In 2015, St. Anastasia Church in Douglaston celebrated 100 years in the community by dressing in early 20th-century attire, holding outdoor festivities and conducting a service led by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Brooklyn Diocese.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall