The Archdiocese of Chicago will close six schools this year. Despite the immediate uproar of parents and the usual snide comments from the trolls that the sex scandal that rocked the church is to blame, I can tell you what really closed those schools: Low enrollment.
Unfortunately I've been involved in the closing of two schools while my kids grew up. When enrollment drops below 300 it's time to panic and no one seems to know what to do about it.
The other factor is uncollected tuition. There are parents out there that will drop the child off in their brand new car, but when asked about uncollected tuition, they don't seem to have the money.
I worked on a financial committee that tried to collect back tuition. Our financial director lived a couple of doors from a family that owed tuition over a long period of time. None of her attempts to get them to pay seemed to work. The last straw was when she saw a massive TV being delivered to the home. Unfortunately the children had to be stopped from attending school until a payment was made.
The future of Catholic schools seems to be very grim at this point, but there are small glimmers of hope in the Archdiocese. St. Therese Chinese Catholic School is one of those bright spots in Catholic education. Enrollment is at it's maximum and the waiting list to attend exceeds enrollment. The plan is to buy an additional building to accommodate new students.
What is St. Therese's secret? To the schools that are closing, I suggest you give them a call and find out.
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