Iowa’s catholic schools are wrapping up their observation of National Catholic School week, and many are extending it since they had snow days this past week. Some are among the state’s oldest schools, dating from pioneer days.Mary Wieser is Director of Faith Formation and Education at the Davenport Diocese. She says Iowa’s Catholic schools are still culturally diverse, but parents choose to send their kids for different reasons. An obvious one is academic achievement, another an environment that’s secure and disciplined. Many of Iowa’s religious schools are in rural communities where populations are dwindling.In Iowa’s 4 dioceses, enrollment is declining, though the average student decrease is 5 percent and it’s just four percent in catholic schools. And even if the Catholic schools aren’t shrinking as fast as others, they must face the prospect of consolidating or closing. In some rural towns, the Catholic school is the only one in town, and is also the heart of the community. Wieser says currently about 40-thousand kids attend Catholic schools in Iowa.
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