By Anne Marie Amacher
Enrollment is up overall at Catholic schools in the Diocese of Davenport this school year, according to figures that has been sent to the National Catholic Education Association.
“We are proud of our parents and grandparents who continue to support our Catholic schools,” said Lee Morrison, superintendent of the diocesan schools.
“Across Iowa there has been a loss of students,” he said. For the diocesan schools, there’s a net loss of just six students between the elementary and high school levels. Morrison is “very happy” with the results and hopes to see a growth trend in the future. “We can focus on transition from survival to revival,” he said. That includes more marketing of the schools, which offer a “solid academic program and Christ-centered education.”
Overall there are 5,216 students in preschool through high school compared with 5,186 last year. The preschool level gained 35 students, the elementary level lost 42 students and the high school level gained 37 students. (For enrollment numbers by school, click the link at the end of this article).
Assumption High School in Davenport saw a gain of 56 students this year. President Andy Craig believes four factors led to the increase: First is a good product — a good education, extracurricular activities and fine arts, and a good reputation. Second is the hard work of admissions, marketing of the school and assistance from the area Catholic school principals whose schools feed into the Assumption system. Third is the Embracing Our Future Campaign and School Tuition Organizations (STO) that offer financial assistance. “Without their help it would be trying times for many,” Craig said. The fourth factor was a small graduating class last spring and a larger incoming class. “We work hard to get new students.”
All Saints Catholic School in Davenport saw a loss of 39 students. Among the reasons, said Principal Cheryl Lafferty: about five families with multiple students moved out-of-state due to employment; financial arrangements could not be worked out with a few families; and three students left because support for special education students from external agencies was not being met. As those students left, siblings left, too. A few other families did not come back for other reasons, Lafferty noted.
Even though All Saints’ enrollment is down, she is optimistic that the student population will stabilize.
Prince of Peace Academy and Preparatory in Clinton lost six students at the high school level and 19 students at the elementary level. Principal Nancy Peart said the school experienced a decrease in enrollment for many reasons:
“We have had several families move out of the area and international students leave. We also received significantly less in STO funding this past year. (Less funding was available to the STO that serves Prince of Peace and other schools outside of Scott County). Unfortunately, some of our families in need did not receive the level of financial aid that allowed them to keep their children in our school.
“As a school, we are working hard to make a Catholic education affordable to everyone and hope to be able to have some of these families return in the future,” Peart added.
Although Seton Catholic School in Ottumwa is operating with one less grade level, as a kindergarten through fifth-grade school, it has maintained enrollment at 84 students. Keokuk Catholic is also holding its own, after eliminating three grades. Last year Keokuk Catholic had 70 students in nine grade levels (K-8); this year it has 70 students in six grade levels (K-5).
“We have been stable and look forward to growing,” Morrison said about overall Catholic school enrollment. And an important factor in maintaining students and even gaining students has been the STO. “It keeps students in our seats.”
He encourages anyone — with or without children or grandchildren in the K-12 system — to consider helping with financial assistance for students through either of the two STOs in the diocese.
The Mississippi Valley STO covers Scott County Catholic schools. To donate to the Mississippi Valley STO, visit www.mvsto.org/togive.html.
STO of Southeast Iowa is for Catholic schools outside Scott County. To donate to the STO of Southeast Iowa, visit www.stoseiowa.org or contact Steve Roling at 246 Fifth Ave. S., Suite 103, Clinton, IA, 52732, for a contribution form.
Donations for the 2010 tax year are due Dec. 31.
Enrollment by school http://www.catholicmessenger.org/content/current/displayads/enrollment2010.pdf