Catholic Schools See Marketing Aid Enrollment

After 97 years, Our Lady of Lourdes School was closing — enrollment had dwindled to just 35 children last year at what was once one of the West Coast’s biggest Catholic schools.

But with a new principal who knocked on doors, offered X Box video game consoles to kids who brought in a friend, and recruited families who lost their bid in a charter school lottery, the East Los Angeles school stayed open — 132 pupils are registered for this fall.

“If we want to continue to survive, we have to think like a business,” said Domenico Pilato, who heads the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ school marketing project.

Nationally, Catholic school enrollment is still waning — closing 167 schools and losing 34,000 pupils over the past year. But educators say the number of schools with waiting lists increased by 171 and 34 schools opened.

The article quotes Msgr Sabato Pilato, superintendent of high schools in Los Angeles, as saying that in some cases if a principal was reluctant to take on marketing duties, they had to be replaced: “Something different had to happen”

The public is really on a different opiate called athiest, the worlds strongest painkiller pain-creator contradiction ever. God Bless you sir.

Parents want the best they can provide for their kids. Catholic schools that have strong academics, decent art and athletic opportunities, strong theology, and a caring environment are going to thrive. It seems like some of the parish schools in my area just sitting around, hoping the public schools will get worse.

I’m concerned about enrolling my future children in the parish school. It’s the same school my sisters and brother attended, none of whom remained in the faith as adults. There was horrible bullying in both of my sisters’ classes and it included the mothers as well as the students. There was also an unimaginable amount of racism and elitism amongst the families, to the extent that at a diocese league soccer game, the local parish parents began changing “mow our grass” to the mostly Hispanic children that were playing for the other parish! How am I supposed to send my kids into that? How do I know if it’s been “cleaned up” or not in the past ten years?

The public school district I live in is one of the best in the state. If my kids went there, they’d have all sorts of opportunities they wouldn’t have at the parish school. I also work for another public school district and assuming there is room, I would be allowed to enroll my kids there. It’s a perfect elementary school. There’s orchestra and choir, tons of non competitive sport opportunities, and absolutely fabulous staff members. Plus I could keep my eyes on them everyday. (Which has its plusses and downsides.) It’s also an extremely diverse school with students from every continent. I really have a hard time imagining that the parish school could be near as good as the school where I work especially with all the bad experiences we had there. It’d have to be a miracle of an ad campaign to wipe away all the negativity I experienced in my childhood.

Allegra, I am sorry you had such a bad personal experience. Its only natural that you be skeptical given what you wrote.

I have seen many comments posted here at CAF questioning why send their children to a Catholic school if it really isn’t Catholic except in name. That question needs to be answered by the schools.

The news article mentioned that the Los Angeles Catholic schools are serious about marketing themselves. One of the most important things for a business to succeed is to know its customers and to give them what they want. This means the schools have to listen to parents and change the schools in a way which satisfy their concerns.

That the LA Catholic schools are training all employees in customer service sounds like a positive development. I think the listening needs to be done on an individual, grassroots level as well as at a more corporate level.

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