The Nonpublic Schools and the Public Purse : A Financial Study of Roman Catholic Schools in Rhode Island.

by Herbert J. Kiesling

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Faced with declining enrollment and rising costs, U.S. Catholic schools decreased by 5 percent between 1963 and 1968. Eleven states subsidize nonpublic, church-controlled schools in some way. Public school expenditures in 1967 averaged over $700 per pupil; 15 representative Rhode Island parochial schools spent $103--up from $42 in 1958. This increase reflects living costs of nuns and brothers, a decline in religious vocations causing an increase in lay teachers, and smaller classes, especially in low-income parishes. Yearly fees, averaging $12 for a middle-income parish and $34 for a high-income parish, hardly account for the 13 percent drop in enrollment. Higher fees in poorer parishes, averaging $42, may account for part of their 27 percent decline. How to prevent the collapse of religious schools in the United States is not clear. But if all their present pupils enroll in public schools, public education costs will increase at least 13 percent--$3.5 billion--plus at least $500,000,000 for buildings. 25 pp.

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