Good Riddance: Catholic Schools Are Losing Students at Record Rates, and Hundreds Are Closing

Catholic Schools Are Losing Students at Record Rates, and Hundreds Are Closing
FILE – In this Monday, June 8, 2020 file photo, a cross sits in the window of an empty classroom at Quigley Catholic High School in Baden, Pa. On Monday, Feb. 8, 202, Catholic education officials reported that enrollment in Roman Catholic schools in the United States dropped 6.4% from the previous academic year amid the pandemic and economic stresses — the largest single-year decline in at least five decades. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

SAN FERNANDO, Calif.—Catholic schools across the country are struggling to keep the doors open, after a pandemic year that left many families unable to pay tuition and the church without extra funds to cover the difference.

At least 209 of the country’s nearly 6,000 Catholic schools have closed over the past year, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. More closures are expected this summer, and some schools have taken to GoFundMe in an effort to stay open.

Nationwide, Catholic school enrollment fell 6.4% at the start of this school year, the largest single-year decline since the NCEA began tracking such data in the 1970s.

Urban dioceses have been hit especially hard: Enrollment in schools run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles was down 12% at the start of this school year. In the Archdiocese of New York, enrollment was down 11%.

While enrollment has been falling for decades, the pandemic has added to the challenges schools are already facing, Catholic education leaders said. The percentage of the population that identifies as Catholic has been falling, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. Charter schools and home-schooling networks now attract students who might once have gone to Catholic schools. Catholic school tuition, though still cheaper than most private schools, has risen to an average of about $4,800 for elementary school and $10,000 for high school.

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Source: Wall Street Journal

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