In 10 years, Phila. Catholic school enrollment drops 34%

Since the 1890s, the Philadelphia Archdiocese has educated 15.5 million students.

But enrollment in Catholic schools across the region is dropping. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has seen a 34 percent decrease in students over 10 years.

Church officials say the recession and the increase in free charter schools have contributed to the decreasing number of students. There’s also a population shift going on.

Mary Rochford, the superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, said Catholics are moving out of the city and the inner-ring suburbs.

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“I’ve spent time at the table with parishes that, their schools are financially challenged because of enrollment dropping, parish areas shifting, people moving out of the parish, either out into the counties or farther up into the counties,” she said.

Rochford said Catholic populations are growing in central and upper Montgomery and Bucks counties, as well as southern Chester County.

The average yearly tuition cost for elementary schools is $2,800, and $5,300 for secondary schools.

The archdiocese recently established a commission to work out a strategy for the future of Catholic schools in the area.

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