By Anne Marie Amacher
Many administrators at Catholic schools in the Davenport Diocese already have waiting lists for the upcoming school year.
At John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport, 368 students had enrolled for the next school year even before the close of the 2011-12 school year. Last week enrollment rose to 371, an increase of seven students over the school year just ended.
“I anticipate enrollment being between 380-390 kindergarten-through-eighth-grade students next year,” said JFK Principal Chad Steimle.
More than 60 students have shown an interest in the upcoming kindergarten class which has only 52 spots open, he noted. “Grades K-3 are the most problematic at all Catholic schools, and some families with multiple children are feeling the effect,” he noted. Some families may have children attending different Catholic schools because of waiting lists.
Steimle attributes the growth at JFK to fulfillment of the school’s mission statement: to provide a top quality Catholic education with top-notch academics and faith formation.
The School Tuition Organization (STO) and Embracing Our Future financial assistance program have been very helpful. “More and more families are finding that Catholic education really is affordable,” Steimle said.
At St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport, waiting lists have been common in recent years. “Our waiting list for the 2012-13 school year is the longest it has ever been,” said Principal Julie Delaney. A total of 28 students in grades kindergarten through eight are on the waiting list, with fourth grade having the longest wait, Delaney said.
“I attribute the increase in demand to a few different reasons. Being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School has increased the number of new families to the area that would like to get their children enrolled. The availability of financial assistance through the Embracing Our Future and the School Tuition Organization, along with scholarships that are available to St. Paul parishioners, has made Catholic education affordable.” Also, Father Michael Spiekermeier, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, “boldly promotes Catholic education, and with his support enrollment has increased in his 12 years at St. Paul’s.”
Ron Glasgow, principal at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Burlington, said the middle school level is growing. When sixth grade was added to the junior/senior high building in 2009, enrollment totaled 54. This fall, enrollment in grades six through eight will be close to 100, Glasgow said.
He believes Notre Dame’s reputation for solid academics is a draw. “I also feel that the middle school concept is a reason that has kept our Notre Dame fifth-graders from leaving” after elementary school, he said. Prior to 2009, the five-year enrollment pattern from fifth to sixth grade showed a 20 percent drop. That decline stopped when the sixth grade moved, and enrollment began to grow at a steady pace, Glasgow said.
At Notre Dame Elementary in Burlington, Principal Bob Carr said enrollment will be up slightly with a larger kindergarten class. He said new enrollment at Notre Dame in general is due to new families and some transfers from public schools.
The kindergarten class at Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School in Muscatine will be larger this fall and a waiting list exists for the four-year-old preschool program, said Principal Ann Gomez.
“Saints Mary and Mathias has a good, solid instructional base in both faith and academics with a highly dedicated staff. Parents are realizing the importance of this,” she said.
The three-day preschool at St. James Catholic School in Washington has a waiting list, said Principal Teresa Beenblossom.
Most Catholic schools in the diocese start registration in the spring and continue throughout the summer, so numbers could continue to rise before the start of the new school year.