Enrollment Down At Coast Catholic Schools

For the Hill Family, a Catholic education is a family tradition. In fact, Michele Hill says she is getting ready to graduate her fourth child this year.

When Michele and her family left California, all of the Catholic schools were full. They were surprised to find that enrollment was so low in Jackson County.

"It's disappointing, and I feel those young people are missing something," she said.

Between all three Catholic schools more, than 80 students didn't come back after the summer break. And in a school system of less than 600 hundred students, that makes a difference.

"It's something that we have to take look at," school principal Elizabeth Benefield said. "We are going to be surveying some of the folks who are not with us any longer and find out what we can do."

This drop comes at a time when Catholic schools nationally are reporting major increases. Educators in Jackson County say recent lay offs and shut downs here may mean some families have to use tuition money for other things.

"Generally, I think we are in transition phase in this particular area with changes in employment and with large companies closing and that's effecting some things," Principal Benefield said.

"Numbers fluctuate for different reasons, up and down," Leila Stanford said. "I think they'll go back up. We offer a really good education here."

Catholic educators expect to pick up a few more student and pre-schoolers by the end of August as families make final decisions for the school year. They hope the surveys they are sending out will help them pinpoint exactly where all their students have gone.