FL Catholic schools show enrollment growth, again

rising trend lineAgain defying national trends, Catholic schools in Florida showed enrollment growth for the second year in a row this year.

Enrollment in PreK-12 reached 84,750, up from 84,258 last year, a modest increase of 0.6 percent, according to data released Monday by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Enrollment was at 81,632 two years ago.

By contrast, Catholic school enrollment nationally, on the decline for decades, fell another 1.5 percent last year.

Publicly funded, private school choice programs in Florida are a big reason for the difference. Florida Catholic schools enroll students who use pre-K vouchers, McKay scholarships for students with disabilities and tax credit scholarships for low-income students. (The latter is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.)

According to the conference, tax credit scholarship students in Florida Catholic schools increased 23 percent last fall, and 46 percent in fall 2012. McKay students jumped by 12 percent and 7 percent over the same span.

The latest numbers come as schools around the country celebrate National School Choice Week and National Catholic Schools Week. For a more detailed look at what’s going on with Catholic school enrollment in Florida, check out our story from last year.

Update at 12:10 p.m. on Jan. 28: The Catholic school enrollment numbers in Florida are on the upswing even if you exclude Pre-K. According to the conference, there were 73,714 K-12 students in Florida Catholic schools in 2011-12, 75,969 in 2012-13 and 76,500 in 2013-14. Percentage-wise, the K-12 increase over the past two years is 3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.