Feb 10, 2021 - News

Twin Cities Catholic schools see spike in enrollment after decade-long decline

Illustration of an apple wearing a private school tie and emblem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Catholic schools across the metro are reporting a boost in interest amid the pandemic, reversing a decade-long decline.

By the numbers: Overall enrollment is up 1,000 students from the 2019-2020 school year, per the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE), an Edina-based nonprofit representing 79 local PreK-8 Catholic schools.

  • Kindergarten registration for next fall is already more than triple what it was at this time last year, CSCOE president Brian Ragatz told us.

Driving the trend: Most parochial schools returned to in-person instruction last fall — well ahead of local public schools, which only began allowing students to come back to classrooms in the last month.

  • Inquiring parents were looking for certainty and a break from distance learning, Ragatz said.

Why it matters: The boost is a welcome change for the metro's Catholic schools, which were previously losing a combined 1,000 students a year.

The big picture: Private schools across the country have remained fully operational at much higher rates than public systems, and are reporting an increase in applications as a result, as Axios' Erica Pandey has reported.

  • Yes, but: The broader exodus from public schools could also have big consequences for school funding, which is based on a per-pupil formula, and lead to learning gaps along socioeconomic lines, as Pandey noted.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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