About 10 days ago the D&C published Catholic schools' decline here among worst in U.S. Accompanying that story was a link to a spreadsheet containing data for 176 U.S. dioceses. The data, supplied by the National Catholic Education Association, included the number of schools and the total student enrollment for each diocese for both the 1997-98 and 2007-08 school years.
A post a few weeks ago reported on the Diocese of Wichita and its Catholic schools. Several years ago Wichita instituted diocesan-wide stewardship and today no Catholic student pays any tuition in any of its Catholic elementary or high schools. The recently released NCEA data allows us to take a closer look at the Wichita Catholic schools and compare them to what we have here.
Keep in mind that Wichita, with just over 120,000 Catholics, is about one-third the size of DOR. Also, U.S. Census data indicate that the overall population of each diocese is stable, with a net change in each diocese of less than 1% in the past 7 years.
10 years ago Wichita had 36 Catholic schools and today it has 39, while Rochester has gone from 63 to 48 (and is about to lose another 13).
In terms of enrollment, Wichita has grown from 9,976 students to 10,806 in the past 10 years, while DOR has declined from 17,710 students to 10,739 (and is about to lose several hundred more).
The bishops of both Rochester and Wichita say they care about Catholic schools. At least one of them means it.