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Private Elementary Schools Weather Recession

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/privateele_4007.mp3

Private elementary schools can offer an enticing alternative to the public school system, but for families suffering through economic hardship, now they are more of a luxury item than ever before. KSMU's Benjamin Fry spoke to private school officials who are keeping a close eye on enrollment.

(Children Singing)

The teacher leads a music class of 1st graders at Summit Preparatory School in Springfield, one of several independent private schools in the city.

As times get tighter though, some of their parents may find it harder to put a premium on their education.

As a new semester gets underway, school officials are keeping close tabs on student numbers.

Despite the souring economy, Summit Preparatory School says it expects steady enrollment.

However, Admissions Coordinator Marie Jarek also expects more need for financial support.

"We anticipate an increase in the number of financial aide requests here at the Summit," Jarek said.

Jarek says a committee will review the requests and determine if the financial aide requirements need to be altered.

Amy Demelo is the Director of Springfield Catholic Schools, which oversees four private elementary schools as well as Springfield Catholic High School.

She says enrollment remains steady across these schools, and expects the same for the system's newest school, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

"They add an elementary grade every single year, so next year we are anticipating adding the fourth grade. We have not changed that outlook; we are still going to add that grade and expect students will come," Demelo said.

Despite the growth, Demelo says she understands that it may be more difficult for some families to pay for their children's private education.

For KSMU News, I'm Benjamin Fry.