On Sunday, the board of St. Pauls Church voted unanimously to end the life of the elementary school immediately after graduation if the institution can last that...
By Alexander Dworkowitz
After 36 years on College Point Boulevard, St. Pauls Episcopal School is closing down.
On Sunday, the board of St. Pauls Church voted unanimously to end the life of the elementary school immediately after graduation if the institution can last that long.
This is a very sad obligation, said the Rev. Paul Hamilton, headmaster of the school and rector of the church. Everyone is quite pained by it.
St. Pauls Episcopal School has 80 students from prekindergarten to eighth grade. The school prides itself on its small classes, which range from seven to 15 pupils.
The school never was a financial success. The institution operated in the red for 35 of its 36 years of existence, Hamilton said.
The enrollment at the school has dropped in recent years, said Harriet Stein, who has been a French teacher at St. Pauls for seven years. The school had as many as 110 students about five years ago, said Stein.
It usually hovers around 100, Stein said.
Despite its struggles, the church board, the controlling body of the organization, decided to spend $100,000 two years ago to renovate the building.
The church boards vote came more than a week after the board of the school recommended closing the school.
Before the vote of the church board, Stein held out hope that it would remain open, hoping to raise more money to keep the school in business for at least another year.
Stein said that unlike Catholic schools, Episcopalian schools do not receive funding from their diocese and have to rely on their own church to raise money for the school.
Its a nice little school, she said. Its mostly blue-collar families. Its a shame.
Graduation for the eighth grade students is set for June 14, and the school will struggle to stay open until that date, Hamilton said.
Were hoping to be able to make it to the finish line, he said.
The closing is directly related to the shrinking membership of the church, the rector said.
The church itself has become so small and is in such financial stress that it is no longer able to sustain the school, Hamilton said.
Hamilton, who has served the church for three years, described St. Pauls as having a thriving congregation in the 1970s. But over the last several decades, many church members have moved to Long Island, while others have died, he said.
Hamilton said the future of the church itself was also threatened since it has only slightly more than a dozen pledging members.
None of us can predict what God has in mind for this church.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2002 Community News Group
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