Thursday, 19 November 2020 13:26

The Private Option: Increased Interest in Private Schools

By Megin Potter | Education
Photo provided. Photo provided.

As the pandemic persists, more parents are turning to private schools as an educational solution.

Like other private schools in the area, Saratoga Central Catholic School has seen an increase in enrollment this year. This increase has been precipitated by the private school’s small structure and their flexibility to adjust to changes quickly.

SMALL BY DESIGN
Enrollment in Saratoga Central Catholic (SCC) school has increased 12% this year. One of the main reasons for this is the private school’s small, in-person learning model. 

“We’re small by design, but we got smaller and more spread out,” said Principal Joseph Kilmade. 

In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, some of the area’s public school districts created staggered in-person learning models that put parents with multiple children in different grades, or who have to be back at work full-time, in a difficult position. 

With a student body of approximately 200 students in the 6th through 12th grades, class size at SCC is usually just a dozen students per teacher, and some of those students are learning remotely.

While SCC has to follow the same restrictions as other districts when it comes to sports and extracurricular activities, again, their small size gave them an advantage. 

“We don’t have hundreds of kids trying to get in all at once for gym time. We do allow sports training at a distance. For basketball, each kid has their own ball and shoots at a different hoop, we’ve been able to have soccer, cross-country and other sports safely,” said Kilmade.

FLEXIBLE LEARNING OPTIONS
The ability for Saratoga Central Catholic school to adapt to change quickly has given them a leg up in these uncertain times.

While the majority of students are in-person, SCC does have the option for students to be remote – both full-time or temporarily. Currently, 10% of students are learning remotely daily, another 5 to 10% are learning remotely on a temporary basis. 

“It’s working out very well,” said Kilmade.

Teachers are using GSuite technology to simultaneously teach the students that are in the classroom and those that are learning remotely. Remote learners follow the same schedule and receive the same material as in-person learners.

Every five weeks, parents can choose the learning model that will work best for them, and if something unexpected arises (a student needs to get a COVID test or quarantine) they will coordinate with that family to support their children’s learning needs.

FINANCIALLY FEASIBLE
For many who are thinking about a private school education for the children, the cost can be prohibitive. Saratoga Central Catholic school is sensitive to this and is responding with more financial aid to help with the cost of tuition. 

“This year, we’re giving out more financial aid then we have in the past,” said Kilmade.

This move is allowing parents who previously had their children in public school to make the switch. For those who were already considering sending their children to SCC once they were in high school, it is encouraging them to enroll students earlier, instead.

Like other private schools, SCC administers a placement test for enrollment. As competition increases for private school spots, these tests will remain a useful tool to enhance your child’s chances at admission. Each private school will be hosting their own tests this year for those students interested in entering the middle and high school grades. 

For more information, upcoming testing dates and admission guidelines, call 518-587-7070 or visit www.saratogacatholic.org.

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