Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Can Catholic Education Survive in the Archdiocese?

Over the last two to three weeks, the Catholic Standard (the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington DC) has run a number of articles on the City Center Consortium and the closing of a number of Catholic Schools.

Let’s take a moment to recap.

Approximately ten years ago, the Archdiocese (under his Eminence Cardinal Hickey) set up the City Center Consortium to provide the needed resources to ensure that Catholic schools remain a viable alternative to the public school system in Washington, DC. The Consortium stared with eight schools and later added another six. During that time, over $60 million were pumped into the Consortium.

This was a great idea – to continue to provide the needed resources to Catholic schools in the inner city, which were trying to stay afloat. Part of the thinking at the time (and I remember this) was to show that Catholic schools could produce a quality-learning environment to those who had the least choices. In addition, if these schools became a model, then others who may have hesitated sending their children, would do so. A sort of “build it and they will come.”

Unfortunately, a number of things changed over those ten years (according to the Catholic Standard) to put us in the situation we are today:

- 10% decline in the population of the District of Columbia;
- 11% decline in school-aged children;
- 19% decline in enrollment; and,
- An increase in the number of tuition-free public charter schools.

Because of all of these things, the Archdiocese via the Consortium was simply hemorrhaging money. This year alone, they will be in the red apx. $7million and over $56 million over the next 5 years (at the current rate).

To be continued…

No comments: