From the Just Down the Expressway Desk…some encouraging news from Newsday:
Bucking a national trend, enrollment at most of Long Island’s Catholic high schools is strong and holding steady, even as falling numbers of students in the diocese’s elementary schools forced closures and the region’s economy struggles to regain its pre-recession footing.
Seven of the 10 high schools showed enrollment gains over the decade from the 2003-04 school year through 2012-13, while three saw declines. One school, the all-girls Academy of St. Joseph in Brentwood, closed in 2009.
The stability on Long Island stems from a combination of factors — the number of Catholics here and families’ desire to have their children in a faith-based high school; the institutions’ academic rigor, traditions and strict rules; and the modest tuition cost compared with other private schools.
Chaminade High School in Mineola, with a $40 million endowment supported by loyal alumni, is attracting students from as far away as New Jersey and has to reject about 65 percent of applicants annually. Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale is at capacity and, like Chaminade, turns away hundreds of applicants each year.
The student body at St. Anthony’s in South Huntington, which features a $34 million student center, is near all-time highs. And Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, one of two all-girls Catholic high schools on the Island, operates a van service to the village’s train station to pick up students whose hometowns range from the Hamptons to Bayside, Queens.
…Tuition at the Catholic high schools is generally about $8,500 to $9,000 a year, according to the schools. That’s a lot less than Friends Academy in Locust Valley, at about $29,000 a year, or the tuition at the Ross School in East Hampton, which is at least $38,000 a year, including fees.
Sister Joanne Callahan, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said that some Catholic parents feel they can send their children to public elementary schools, but when the time comes for high school, they want them in a Catholic institution.
“Many of them have chosen to save money and wait for a Catholic high school,” she said. “Many feel that their [public] elementary schools are very good, but they have some concerns about their students going into high school . . . and not having a faith-based” environment.