By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Enrollment in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Davenport declined about 1 percent, a smaller drop than might be expected during a pandemic, said Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools. Morrison, who will retire in June, said he has heard from superintendents of other school districts that enrollment declined by up to 5 %. “We thank our families for supporting our Catholic schools,” he said.
The Davenport Diocese reports enrollment of 3,932 students in grades kindergarten through senior high school, a decrease of 73 students over last year.
Bill Maupin, principal of Notre Dame Catholic Schools in Burlington, said several families chose to homeschool their children this school year due to the pandemic. Enrollment at the junior/senior high rose by one student, but elementary enrollment declined by 20 students. “They either were worried that the virus would make us close face-to-face learning and go online or were worried for the health of their student. We hope they will be back next year,” Maupin said of the students who did not return.
John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport saw a decrease of 18 students, mainly due to a larger eighth-grade class graduating last year and a smaller, incoming kindergarten class this year. “We were on a roll several years ago when we were bringing in 40-50 kindergartners each year. Those larger groups are now ‘graduating’ and we’ve been bringing in groups of 32-42 kindergartners.” When families move from the Quad-City area, they tend to be larger families, Principal Chad Steimle said. “Over time, those slight differences in family sizes do have a modest impact in enrollment.”
Principal Jeanne Von Feldt of All Saints Catholic School in Davenport agreed with Steimle’s assessment — larger graduating classes, smaller incoming classes and several families moving out of the area affected enrollment at All Saints. Enrollment was down 26 students over the previous year. “I have been getting some families that want to transfer to All Saints second semester that are currently with the public school system and I love that,” Von Feldt said with excitement.
Keokuk Catholic School saw an increase in enrollment of 12 students, due to several factors, Principal Darren MacArthur said. “The KCS School Board wanted to provide students, families and staff with as much of a ‘normal’ learning environment as possible. Our Return to Learn plan was designed around the firm belief that in-person learning was the best model for our kids. With the lack of in-person education at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, our board was passionate about making (in-person learning) happen. We also had many families reach out about getting a jump start on the learning for the 2020-21 school year.”
Keokuk Catholic began in-person learning Aug. 17. The public school district had a modified schedule, which he believes helped his school.
“The positive communication pathways we have with families is another critical factor for our expanding enrollment. Consistent family communication also played a part in our increased enrollment regarding new technology, the high expectation for students’ academic success, small class sizes, quality mitigation procedures and a more personable environment,” he said. “It has taken us several years to get to this point, but the combination of these factors has helped sustain and will hopefully grow our enrollment for the future.”