Catholic schools see jump in enrollment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Catholic schools see jump in enrollment

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Catholic school enrollment in is up in Dubuque, officials say for the first time ever, while public school enrollment has dropped for the first time in seven years. In the 2007-2008 school year, around 1,980 students, Kindergarten to 12th grades, enrolled in Holy Family Catholic Schools. The next year, the system added about ten more students.

In the Dubuque Community Schools, K-12 enrollment went from 10,563 to 10,439; dropping more than 100 students in 2008-2009.  To view district enrollment history, click here.

Holy Family administrators say part of the growth is gaining public school kids, but mostly it has to do with slowly growing the program from a preschool and kindergarten level.

Tuesday was registration day at Mazzuchelli Middle School, and like the last couple of years, there were more kids.

"Our enrollment has stabilized in our elementary schools causing more number of students to move into the middle school, so the majority of students coming into our middle school are our own students coming from our K-5 buildings," Holy Family Chief Administrator Steve Cornelius said.

Some growth also comes from transfers.

"We actually are getting more students that are transferring from the public schools, or are moving and new to the area, so we're averaging about 30 students a year that have never been in our system that are joining us at the 6th grade level," Mazzuchelli Principal Kim Hermsen said.

Parents say they choose Catholic schooling to get education mixed with religion.

"We've got great schools all throughout Dubuque, but what Holy Family really does for me and for my family is that there's a balance in the spiritual side of things as well as the phsyical and the educational side," parent Jennifer Gehl said.

"I like the values. They reinforce what I teach at home, and also the smaller class sizes are really nice. They develop a lot of good friendships and I want those to continue," parent Dana Friedel said.

With the growth in students has come a need to grow in terms of facilities. Mazzuchelli has added three homerooms, more lockers, and a portable building.

"Our school is actually only four years old, and when we first started, we were hoping to have 400 students. The building was built to hold 450, and we've actually surpassed that and will be nearly 500 students this fall," Hermsen said.

Holy Family administrators expect continued growth and higher numbers this school year. Part of that growth comes from free 4-year-old preschool in the city of Dubuque.

Administrators note it will be interesting to see numbers considering our current economy. It costs just under $2,000 in tuition for elementary school and over $4,000 for high school, though the school does offer some financial assistance. Holy Family has already offered around $1.3 million in assistance for this school year.  Other costs are covered by parishes, donations, and other sources.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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