Deciding on a Catholic school


As some of you already know, we are moving back to our home town (in two weeks :smiley: ). We are going tour a Catholic school Monday with our daughters (who will both be attending), and I need some advice.:slight_smile:

Currently my children attend an awesome public school. So, we’ve never had any experience with a Catholic school – EVER. What kind of things should I look for? What questions should I ask? If you have ever had any trouble with a Catholic school, what kinds of problems did you encounter? Also, I would love to know how much other people are paying for Catholic school. The one we are considering is $4250/per school year for TWO kids.



Wow! That is inexpensive compared to what I know most Catholic schools cost today :). I grew up mainly in Catholic schools, and my parents only conflict with the school was the sex-ed program they used, so that might be something to look into. They opted my sister out of it, after I went through it, and the teachers were not too happy with my parents for doing that.


We had a few of our children in our parish school, beginning in pre-K. We were very happy with their education and the school in general until my eldest was in second grade. He exhibited some reading problems and we were concerned that he was not getting the kind of help that he needed. After much prayer and angst, we transferred him to our local public school. He was able to receive more one on one instruction, and we found that the teachers were more accessible to us. He is in 5th grade now and is doing very well.

I think if your children are good students and don’t have any learning issues, a Catholic school is a good way to go. We would have loved to have kept our children in the school, but for us, the logistics of having children in different schools on different schedules outweighed the benefits. I do miss the religious part, but it has also forced me to be more dilligent in our children’s religious education. I have to play a greater role than I did if they were receiving it at school.

Our school’s tuition was about $3500 per child per year (NJ). We pay extremely high property taxes so I don’t know if we could have swung 4 tuitions at once, plus our property taxes.

Good luck! I think you’ll know when you tour the school if it’s right for you. If you have had a good experience with education in the past, you will recognize a good school, happy students and good teachers.


well when my son was in elemantry school (k-8) we paid on the avergage $4000 for one kid (not including uniforms etc.)…now that he is in Catholic High School (which are not parish funded in our area) we pay close to $9k (once again not including books, transportation etc.)

questions to ask…how many masses do the kids attend…what religious books etc. do you use…are you state accredidated, are the teachers certified…what are your tests scores like (so you can compare to the public school kids).


you must be up by me…Bergen County…high proprty taxes …so-so public schools:eek:


How did you guess? We are happy with our public school though!


High property taxes…gave it away:)
are you close to the “GW Bridge” by any chance?

so lucky…I wish our towns school was good…alas they suck so my kids go to catholic school …which is ok I love them and think it is a better enviroment for them (versus what our town offers).


I’ve attended Catholic elementary and HS. My kids are now attending a Catholic elementary.
One thing to note- don’t assume they’re instructing according to Vatican teachings.
A good indicator might be the books used in their curriculum.
I would get a list of all the textbook names, and publishers that are used for religious ed, AWA social studies and science.


elementary school - $3200 per year per kid.
junior high (7-8) $7400 per year per kid.
senior high (9-12) $9200 per year per kid.

Does not include transportation, field trip expenses, or lunch. Does include books.



We are in NW Bergen County, farther up 208.


I admire ya’ll who can afford this kind of tuition! The high school tuition you list is more than twice the tuition charged today by the university where DH graduated!


OK …know the area…


Thank you…and lets not forget the property taxes we pay on top of that…where I am it is close to $8600/year…for schools that I will never use:(


It is rather scary. Next year we will have 2 in high school and 1 in junior high. :eek: ($25,000+ tuition paid out per year).

I work, and the paycheck from my job basically goes straight to the school. We do it for class size. Their local public school has about 900-1000 kids in each grade level. Most classes have 30-35 students in them.

At the Catholic high school, there are 200 kids per grade level and between 18-25 kids per classes.


In my opinion the first concern any parent should have when enrolling their child in a Catholic school is how orthodox is the school. Is the school going to follow the magesterium of the Catholic Church or are they going to teach ideas that conflict with the Church. There is nothing worse than sending a child to a Catholic school and then having them indoctrinated with fundamentally wrong ideas, and on top of that paying large amounts of money for this.

If I had the choice to send my daughter to a Catholic school that was unorthodox and didn’t teach what the Vatican does, or a good public school, I would pick the public school any day. NO religion in a school is better than incorrect religion. You can always teach your child proper Catholicism at home, but it gets really tough when your daughter comes home and says, hey my religion teacher told me that women can become priests.

Catholic School where I live in the Lincoln Diocese (Nebraska) is $500 a year per child for elementary and $1,000 per child for high school. There is discount if you have more than three children enrolled in school. This expense isn’t called tuition so that we can write this off of our taxes as a donation to the Church. I’m really surprised more diocese don’t follow this model so that Catholic education is available to all Catholics not only the wealthy who can afford it. Strong orthodox Catholic schools equal strong parishes. Strong parishes equals a strong diocese. :thumbsup:


I agree. I think my parents wasted their money on my Catholic schooling (K-8). I’ve had to completely educate myself on the faith as an adult. The academic experience was unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary, and the parish politics were a nightmare.


I work in a Catholic school, a very family-oriented, comfortable preschool (age 3) through 8 that screens teachers well, uses whatever resources it has to bring skills to the individual child, and offers as close to a home atmosphere as one can offer in a cinderblock building. My grandchildren attend this school. My own children went to Catholic school, briefly public school here and there (not a good experience for them), and were also home educated. This is what WE viewed as important:

  • Authentic Catholic, not pseudo-Catholic, not maybe Catholic, not Catholic sponsored but do what you like. (Sometimes, our priest gives us a bit of a hiccough, but he’s doing better.)
  • “Homey” atmosphere (down to rocking chairs for teachers to rock younger students, interaction between age levels, teachers allowed to properly touch students and receive hugs, etc.).
  • Common sense applied whenever possible in the education process.
  • Students who need help or another learning situation because of learning differences get it, including dual enrollment in public school.

Before you head over to the Catholic school, get a notebook and write some things down:
1.) What do you like about the school they now attend?
2.) What do you dislike about the school they now attend (even great schools have a couple flaws- I know of a district in Texas that is MAREVELOUS, but I would have trouble with some of their rules)?
3.) What do we expect the girls to “get out” of their Catholic school experience?
4.) What would be deal breakers for Catholic school?

The price you quoted is dirt cheap, really. It’s about $400-$500 more than I pay as a qualfied parishioner. But only you know if you can afford it, or afford not to pay it.

After you’ve asked these questions of the Catholic school, do the same thing to the local public school. Tour both schools. Ask questions.

And check out the parish DRE, and what’s being offered as Rel Ed. Is the attitude that public school students can’t handle the “real” religion books and classes, same as the Catholic school students? Is it one big play time? Are the prayers and doctrines taught? Are there opprtuntities for the “CCD” kids to go to Mass besides the weekends?

And here’s something too many people don’t do: Make a return visit to all places, unannounced. Take a gander at things when nobody’s expecting you, if at all possible. That will tell you volumes.

  1. Ask about prayer! My kids’ Catholic elementary school prayed together gathered in the auditorium in the morning, they prayed with their class before lunch, and they prayed in class (over the loudspeaker) before dismissal each afternoon.
  2. Ask about religious education and observance. Does the cafeteria offer no-meat alternatives on Fridays, especially in Lent? Do the students have Mass on First Fridays and is Reconciliation (Penance) offered regularly to the students? How often do the kids get religion classes? (I loved that they got religion EVERY day, just like history, science, math, and English! Does the priest have a presence in the school?
  3. Ask about morality and values training. Do the students talk about Catholic values and discuss the lives of saints?
  4. *Ask about the Catholic vs. non-Catholic makeup of the student body AND the teachers. *I was amazed how many of the teachers were not even Catholic! And in some schools there are large numbers of non-Catholic kids, who then opt out of religious education.
  5. *Ask about the “specials”–such as music and band, art, gym, and sports teams. * Also, some Catholic schools have assemblies that each grade level plans and performs for the other students so the kids get used to public speaking and performance from an early age. Many Catholic schools even have a school song and a school prayer which is great for school spirit and fosters a sense of belonging among the youngest kids. They often also have a program where the older children are “big” sisters and brothers for the younger kids.


A few additional questions you might ask:

  1. What are the qualifications of the teachers responsible for teaching the faith and what is the pastor’s involvement in the curriculum and teacher selection (particularly for religion)? How often do the students receive the sacraments?
  2. What percent of the student body is Catholic? If non-Catholics are admitted, how are their parents oriented to the Catholic school and how does the school maintain its Catholic identify?
  3. What textbooks are they using? How current are they? What’s their condition?
  4. How is the curriculum integrated within the grade and across grades? If the children are expected to produce papers for Social Studies and Science in a specific literary format (i.e. Chicago, MLA, etc.); is that format being taught in English? Are the foundational concepts necessary for 7th grade coursework taught in the lower grades? Do they build on each other as the child progresses?
  5. How is discipline addressed?..
  6. How often do the teachers receive continuing education specifically related to the subject matter and age group they teach?
  7. What type of technology is available and how is it incorporated into the learning environment?
  8. What organization accredits the school? How did the school rate during the last visit?
  9. What type of standardized testing is used and how often is it administered (every year, every other year…)?
  10. What does the school do with the results? (Hopefully they use them to evaluate their curriculum and teaching methods)
  11. What is the acceptance rate to the next level of education (i.e. high school)?
  12. What is the parent involvement? Is there a Home School Association? Is it active? Is there a School Advisory Board? Is it active? What influence does each have on the school? Are parents encouraged to meet with the teachers and/or to visit and observe the classroom?
  13. Is there a student government?
  14. Is there a registered nurse in the school during school hours? If not, who provides emergency care until the fire department and ambulance arrive?
  15. What type of security is in place? Can anyone walk in, or are all doors secured and visitors forced to enter through the main entrance and wear a visitor pass?
  16. How does the school feel when you visit? Do you notice everyone being nice to one another? Are the teachers, staff, children and volunteers in the school smiling? Do people great you warmly?

Also, many Catholic schools have large classes (30 or more students). Don’t let it scare you off. Look beyond the number at how many teachers are working with the students at any given time.

All I can think of off the top of my head…I’m so happy with the elementary school in our area and our son’s high school, even if the public schools were better, I would still send them to Catholic school.

Hope this helps.:slight_smile:


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