St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson says some schools in the archdiocese will have to close in the years ahead to sustain Missouri's oldest and largest school system.
"I just think it's inevitable when you look at the number of children families are having," he said.
The Archbishop said school consolidations are also likely to play a bigger part in addressing shrinking enrollment and tuition revenue, as when three south county elementary schools consolidated last year to create Holy Cross Academy.
"If you're a pastor of a parish and you have people who are absolutely committed to that parish sometimes you have to have someone come in from the outside and say 'if you want this school to continue, you're going to have to work together with some body, because you don't have enough kids'."
In addition, Carlson is asking Catholic schools to set more aside for tuition assistance in order to address shrinking enrollment numbers. Two percent of each parish's external revenue will be set aside under the Archbishop's initiative to help the nearly 200-year-old school system adjust to today's economic and social realities.
Under the plan, the permanent and annual contributions will be phased in over a two year period beginning this year.
Carlson has also announced a capital campaign to raise $5 million over the next three years for tuition assistance. Catholic school enrollment in the archdiocese has dropped by about 14,000 in the last 10 years. About 42,000 students are enrolled in 147 schools across the St. Louis Archdiocese.