Midland Catholic school expands while others close

St. Brigid Catholic School in Midland

Enrollment at Catholic schools in Mid-Michigan is on the decline.

But St. Brigid Catholic School in Midland is bucking the trend.

Student numbers have jumped 10%, creating a need for expansion.

NBC25 went there to find out more.

These students at St. Brigid Catholic School in Midland are part of a new trend happening in some Catholic schools in Mid-Michigan.

"People are starting to appreciate the product, as public schools get larger so do the class sizes, ours are relatively smaller class sizes," said Robert Byrne, the Vicar for Catholic schools with the Diocese of Saginaw.

St. Brigid's administrator says several years ago there were only 64 students here, now there are 100 more.

The school is currently expanding thanks to a 3.2 million dollar capitol improvement project called Preserve the Past, Embrace the Future.

A majority of the project is funded by pledges from parishioners.

That says to me that we have some very devoted parishioners that love our parish, our school, and our kids, said Deacon Aloysius Oliver, the Administrator for St. Brigid Catholic School.

Phase one of the expansion project remodeled the current building, phase two includes building seven rooms upstairs for classrooms and office space, and phase three includes adding a new kitchen and a whole new gymnasium.

"Last year we had half a gym, so we couldn't play a lot of sports," said Jonathan Becker, a St. Brigid Student.

The principal says improvements to the school's building and academics have attracted new students.

"Last year we had some 100 percents in our students, in different grades they have met or exceeded the standards, so we have done very well," said Maureen Becker, the Principal of St. Brigid Catholic School.

Tuition at St. Brigid is $4,300 per year, but through the school's Fair Share program, parents can pledge what they can afford, and the parish picks up a majority of the rest.

"I think Catholic education will get more attractive, the cost is an issue for people, but there are always people willing to make a sacrifice," said Byrne.

A sacrifice the Catholic school system hopes will continue to fill seats at their schools.

Several Catholic schools in the Bay area are also offering free tuition for the first quarter to new students to help boost enrollment.