Nearly 80 percent of private Christian schools in the United States say they have experienced increased enrollment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report that also says many of those same schools are struggling to meet the demand.
The survey, released Tuesday and conducted earlier this year, found that 43 percent of private Christian school leaders say enrollment has increased “substantially” in the past two years, and 36 percent say it has increased “somewhat,” for a total of 79 percent who say enrollment is up, according to the report by DickersonBakker.
Multiple issues have led to the increased demand, the report says.
“A convergence of cultural factors, from the remote learning that took place during the pandemic to moral and social concerns, is causing increased numbers of parents to consider alternative education for their children,” the report says. “Christian schools across the nation appear to be benefiting from this trend, with demand increasing and enrollment growing.”
But the increased demand also has led to challenges, the report says. Asked to list their top three challenges, 67 percent of private Christian school leaders say it’s “having enough classroom space/facility space.” That was followed by “raising more money to cover general operating costs” (46 percent) and “balancing the budget with rising costs” (36 percent). In fact, seven of the top 10 reasons involved financial issues.
“Unfortunately, Christian schools on the whole are not raising money effectively,” the report says, noting that only four in 10 Christian schools employ full-time fundraising staff.
“One major reason that Christian schools are not fundraising effectively is simply because they are not investing sufficient time or money into fundraising efforts,” the report says. “… Most Christian school leaders are not trained in fundraising and do not feel adequately supported or equipped to tackle these challenges on their own. Making matters worse, most of the associations they belong to offer very little in the way of support, training or professional development in this area.”
The report concludes, “Given how important Christian school leaders from across the nation say fundraising is to the future of their schools, we must do more to train and equip them to do it more effectively.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jonathan Kirn
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.