- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Catholic schools in St. Louis have been seeing a decrease in Catholic students over the past decade, while also seeing an increase in non-Catholic enrollment.

In the 11 counties of the St. Louis Archdiocese, Catholic schools lost 22 percent of their Catholic students but saw a 23 percent hike in non-Catholic enrollment in the past 10 years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/2jv75qa ) reported.

The National Catholic Educational Association said non-Catholic students now make up about 13 percent of total enrollment in St. Louis’ Catholic schools.

The trend has caused some schools to close, but Hyde Park’s Most Holy Trinity school has seen a 25 percent enrollment increase in three years. The school’s principal, Jessica Kilmade, said the increase comes after the school changed its recruitment strategy to cater to the mostly low-income, African-American and non-Catholic population in the area.

“Obviously, in our neighborhood, there aren’t as many Catholic families. We broadened our enrollment management and our perspective,” Kilmade said. “As the neighborhood changed and the parish changed, there was a response to those needs.”

St. Louis Archdiocese Superintendent Kurt Nelson said the increase in non-Catholic enrollment can also be due to efforts to better advertise that its schools are open to all students regardless of religion.

The archdiocese has also prioritized increasing scholarship opportunities and school fundraising, promoting enrollment in a neighborhood with majority low-income families.

The change in St. Louis reflects a nationwide trend in Catholic schools. According to the NCEA, non-Catholic student enrollment has increased to 17.4 percent this school year compared to just 2.7 percent in 1970.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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