October 26, 2015

Young parents with financial struggles coupled with underdeveloped endowment, fundraising and alumni infrastructure at Catholic elementary schools may help explain why the primary schools are not faring as well as Catholic secondary schools in the United States.

The National Catholic Educational Association report notes a continued Catholic school enrollment decline since its highpoint in the 1960s, and a 21 per cent drop since 2005.

Still, there is a strong demand for Catholic schools generally, with waiting lists now found at some 31 per cent of schools.

Tuition remains the single largest obstacle to parents' ability to enroll their children in Catholic schools.

Patrick Lofton, NCEA executive vice president said Catholic schools need "to tell their story better" in terms of messaging, marketing and community relations.

Christian Brother Robert Bimonte, NCEA president, pointed out that tuition costs are challenging for the younger parents who often .have college student loans of their own which they are still paying down or saving for children's college funds.

"The average tuition in this country for elementary school children is about $4,000 and that can be a challenge."