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Private schools see surge in enrollment

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BRENTWOOD, Mo. (KMOV.com) — As the first day of school rapidly approaches, many private schools in the St. Louis area said they are experiencing higher enrollment numbers due to their plans to return to in-person classes in the fall.

Many school leaders said the majority of new families are coming from public schools that aren’t offering five day a week in-person learning.

Sam Clemens said his family has attended school in the Brentwood School District for six years. Once the district announced it was only offering virtual learning for the start of the school year, Clemens said it was time to switch.

“When we heard the news about Brentwood going virtual for this semester, we both just kind of threw our arms up like now what,” Clemens said.

He and his wife both work full-time and said it isn’t feasible to monitor their fifth and first grader while they complete school virtually. Clemens also believes virtual learning could set his sons back.

“The idea of putting a 6-year-old and 10-year-old in front of a computer and virtually learning, to say it’s not effective is putting it mildly,” Clemens said.

The Clemens family is making the switch to St. Mary Magdalene, a private school, offering in-person learning five days a week. Kathy Wiseman is the principal there and said she’s received dozes of calls from other families wanting to switch too.

“We’ve increased our enrollment because I think parents want their children in class all day,” Wiseman said. “I think it’s because the parents are needing to work and they can’t stay home with their children.”

In Jefferson County, leaders at St. John Lutheran said they’re also experiencing higher enrollment. Principal David Florine said he’s received calls from around 40 families. He said the school will have at least 20 new students coming from public schools.

“That was our biggest adjustment, which means we had to find an extra room and move some other classrooms around to find space for that classroom,” Florine said.

Leaders at St. Mary Magdalene and St. John Lutheran said most of their primary grades are full. Both schools said they have limited spots available for students in older grades.

Private schools obviously come with a price tag. On St. Mary Magdalene’s website, they list tuition for one student at $6,100. St. John Lutheran does not provide tuition numbers on its website. You must call the school office for the amount. 

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