Tuition to rise at St. Joseph SchoolSt. Joseph Parish will raise tuition by about 10% to $3,300 for the 2010-11 school year. Tuition has been set by the diocese at $2,950 for the last two years. The diocese has yet to say anything about its tuition plans for next year.
MCCS 2009-10 enrollment downDOR spokesman Doug Mandelaro is quoted as saying that there had been "an 8-percent enrollment drop at the remaining schools this past year." The 2008-09 MCCS enrollment has been reported at 3,700 students. With St. Joseph's enrolment at just over 400, an 8% drop at the remaining schools translates into a loss of of about 265 students, or a 2009-10 enrollment level of about 3,435 students.
Two years ago the diocese indicated that it needed over 4,000 students to break even, given its tuition rate of $2,950. It would therefore appear that the MCCS budget is now under considerable strain.
The demographic shift - againMandelaro attributed the drop in enrollment to both the economic downturn and "changes in demographics." It must be noted that for the last two years the diocese has been citing a demographic shift as a cause of various ills ranging from declining Mass attendance to declining MCCS enrollment, but that it has yet to publish the data upon which it bases that claim.
No closed school will be allowed to reopenMandelaro confirmed an earlier report that the diocese will not allow any of the 13 schools closed by Bishop Clark in 2008 to reopen as parish schools.
"None of the closed schools are being reopened," he said, noting that one reason Bishop Clark approved the task force's recommendation on school closings was concern that if some or all of the schools slated for closure had been allowed to remain open, they might have drawn students away from the county's other 11 schools, thereby destabilizing the entire school system.
That concern persists.
A parish school: A "wonderful opportunity ... for the growth of our parish"The story quotes St. Joseph pastor Fr. Jim Schwartz on the relationship between a parish and its school ...
"From a parish perspective, faith formation is a major parish priority as it is expressed in Catholic school," Father Schwartz said. "We see this as a rich and wonderful opportunity to provide faith formation for the growth of our parish."
Father Schwartz said he is optimistic that local control over the school will encourage parishioners to feel more connected to it, allowing the school to continue providing a high-quality education ...
"The viability and the future of the school has just taken a giant step forward," Father Schwartz remarked.All of which leads one to wonder just what Fr. Schwartz' assessment of "the viability and the future of the school" would have been, had it remained under MCCS control.
Why does it always seem to be about the money?While DOR does not release the weekend collection figures of its parishes, it does publish their CMA assessments. And, since a parish's CMA assessment is based largely on the size of its average weekly collection, these assessments can give us a good picture of our parishes' relative incomes.
With this in mind it is interesting to note that the four parishes that have or may regain control over their schools are among the nine in all of DOR with the highest CMA assessments. Indeed, only one other parish (Peace of Christ) in this top nine has a Catholic school on its property.
So it looks like just about the only parishes to be considered for, in Fr. Schwartz' words, "wonderful opportunit[ies] ... for the growth of our parish" are those who are already doing pretty well for themselves.
I guess the rest of us will just have to fend for ourselves.
UPDATE: 13WHAM.com is reporting that the reversion of St. Lawrence School in Greece to parish control is now a done deal. The change-over will take effect at the end of the current school year.
UPDATE: WHEC.com also has a report on this story. At least one St. Joseph parent is quite happy with the new arrangement ...
Since Bishop Mathew Clark closed 13 Catholic schools in 2008, there has been some lingering resentment and skepticism. Parents worried which schools might be next? But parents who spoke today say they like this move.
"It is a good thing. It's actually a very positive thing. It's a relief," said parent Christine Sebastian. Instead of sending her son's tuition money to the Diocese, it will now go directly to the St. Joseph's parish school. "I mean, for years we've worried every timed the tuition list comes out, which schools are going to close. And honestly, the anxiety, the fear is now gone. We can raise money for areas that we wanted to spend money in. And now we can do that."