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Catholic School enrollment decline slowing in archdiocese

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Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati poses with students in a 2013 file photo.
Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati poses with students in a 2013 file photo.

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph

Nationwide, Catholic school enrollment dropped 24.5 percent from 2000 to 2013, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. Locally, the enrollment numbers have also declined in recent years but that trend may be nearing an end.

Between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years Cincinnati Catholic schools declined 1.5 percent. From 2011-12 to 2012-13, the decline dropped below one percent (.98 percent). From 2012-13 to 2013-14, the decline was just .91 percent.

“Overall enrollment this year in our Catholic schools continued to decline, but at a slower and smaller rate than in prior years,” said Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools. “We’ve seen a continual regression in the shrinkage of Catholic school enrollment and we’ve seen some dramatic turnarounds in some of our Catholic schools.”

Currently, there are 42,415 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade at the 113 Catholic schools in this archdiocese. Additionally, there are roughly 2,000 preschoolers enrolled. Elementary enrollment is 29,182 and high school enrollment is 13,233.  Catholic students account for 76.76 percent of total enrollment.

While overall Cincinnati Catholic schools experienced another small decline, Rigg was quick to note many schools have had great success. Rigg said St. Cecilia in Oakley, Holy Family in Price Hill and St. Clement in St. Bernard are among those that have increased substantially in enrollment. St. Anthony in Dayton saw an increase after a several-year decline and Mary Queen of Peace earned its first increase in school history.

“Schools that three or four years ago were actively discerning whether they could stay open are now experiencing great growth,” Rigg said. “Our urban schools in general are doing quite well. We do have some schools that are shrinking in enrollment in areas of significant demographic change.”

Rigg attributes the growth and slowing of overall decline to changes in the Ed Choice voucher program, marketing, and the overall improvement of Catholic schools within the archdiocese.

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