Diocese of Fall River celebrates Catholic Schools Week as enrollment rebounds nationally
Originally published on www.turnto10.com
by LIZ BATESON, NBC 10 NEWS
This week marks Catholic Schools Week, and it comes at a crucial time for the Diocese of Fall River, as enrollment numbers are slowly climbing for the first time in years.
“It’s a great opportunity in the middle of the school year for us to take a step back from the norm a little bit and truly celebrate and tell the story about what’s special about Catholic education,” Superintendent of Schools for the Fall River Diocese Dan Roy said.
Educators in the Diocese of Fall River are focused on growth, not just spiritually, but also physically.
Enrollment in Catholic schools is increasing for the second year in a row nationwide after a sharp decline. During the 2019-2020 school year, enrollment numbers dropped nearly 6.5%, but schools are bouncing back.
The National Catholic Educational Association said last year, enrollment increased by 62,000 and to more than 1.68 million students.
It’s a trend schools locally are seeing, as well.
“They are seeing an uptick in interest and an increase in applications to our schools,” said Roy.
It’s a much different story after Bishop Connolly High School closed its doors this past spring due to low enrollment and financial hardships.
“Bishop Stang has taken on almost all of those students and we are working closely with those families this year to make sure they are welcome. I am happy to say we’ve been able to retain most of those families seeking a Catholic education,” said Roy.
Roy said part of the rebound could be from their handling of the pandemic or from families reconsidering their values.
“We made the commitment towards working towards an in-person model and providing in person learning for the 2020-2021 school year. I think that was very reassuring, very heartening for families to see,” Roy explained. “Families are really looking for the structure, the high expectations, but also that sense of belonging that our Catholic schools provide.”
Despite the costs of a private education, Roy says they’re focused on making it more accessible for all.
“30% of our students in elementary schools are receiving some form of financial aid,” he explained.
The diocese said that’s more than 1,000 students, leading many families to pay a monthly tuition of $300 or less.