Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis

A parent listens during an information session on using 529 savings plans for private K-12 education at St. Pius X High School in Festus Tuesday, march 6, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Parents with children in private schools are filling gymnasiums and cafeterias to learn how they can take advantage of a new tax break to save money on tuition.

Traditionally, so-called 529 plans were a way for parents to stash money away to pay for their child’s college education, without having to pay taxes on the gains. The federal tax overhaul plan enacted late last year changed rules around 529 plans so they can also be used to pay for private K-12 school tuition, up to $10,000 a year.

Children run past a box of welcome packets at new parent orientation at St. Ann Catholic School in Normandy on Aug. 10, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Catholic education is a tradition almost as old as St. Louis itself. Saint Louis University was founded by Jesuit priests in 1818, and is gearing up for its 200th anniversary.

Yet from kindergarten to college, Catholic education in the area is undergoing a shift due to declining enrollment and cultural evolutions.

Archbishop Robert Carlson ceremonially breaks ground on the new St. Margaret of Scotland school building on Sunday, March 1, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Margaret of Scotland School didn’t set out to build the first new Catholic parish school building in St. Louis in 50 years. It just ran out of classrooms.

“We’re so crowded right now I always say don’t try and stretch because there’s not room,” St. Margaret Principal Juliann DePalma Hesed said. “Every corner of our building is used. Our cafeteria is our cafeteria but it is used eight different times (a week) for classes that don’t have a classroom.”  

According to Hesed, the school began seeing growth in the early 2000s after decades of serving 230 - 260 students.

As local schools celebrate Catholic Schools Week, the new superintendent of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis said the schools are successful because everyone works together.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 2, 2012 - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson wants Catholic education to strengthen its Catholic identity, increase enrollment, be able to use state tax credits for scholarships to non-public schools and raise up to $10 million a year from parishes for financial aid.