I'm sorry, I just can't help writing all this out ALL THE TIME
More to say, obvs

Schoolicious

Okay, let's do this. CATHOLIC SCHOOL. I might not send my kids to Catholic school. WHAT WHAT!

I wrote about this maybe a year ago? Am obviously too lazy to look that up. But I remember some "Catholic school is VERY important to us" comments and a few that seemed surprised there were other options, as well as a handful of former varyingly scarred former Catholic school students. So THAT was helpful. 

Tonight I was sitting here looking up all the numbers. If we want both kids in 3x a week preschool next year, we're looking at a price of We Could Just Barely Pull That Off, I Mean, JUST BARELY. We would do it knowing that we would only have two kids in preschool at the same time, so it would be only one year of JUST BARELY. 

Except what if we send Jack to kindergarten at a Catholic school? What are we looking at then? And after a bunch of Googling and calculating, I realized that if we sent both kids to our parish school, which claims to be the least expensive Catholic school in the city, we're looking at $800 a month. Which. Well. Hmm. 

(Note: This would be in-parish tuition. If you are not a parishioner, it's more like $1200 a month for two kids HOLY CATS.)

Yes, there is tuition assistance blah blah blah, but like Phillip said when we were talking about it tonight, if we applied for assistance we would then feel guilty every time we went out to eat or bought fancy new computer equipment (him) or a fabulous pair of boots (me). So. Hmm. 

If I want to send my kids to preschool/pre-K at my parish school, I have to start making my decision NOW. So this time next year, I will be required to make my decision about kindergarten. You see why I want to hurry up and find out where we're going to LIVE. (Note: preschool/pre-K is marginally less expensive than our current preschool, and lasts an hour longer each day, but I don't know if I LIKE that extra hour and I think I've mentioned that we LOVE our current preschool.)

OKAY SO ANYWAY. Here's my deal with Catholic school. I basically know nothing about it. Other than what I learn at my various churchy meetings and quick conversations with school parents, I'm completely in the dark. My mom went to Catholic school, but that was in the Dark Ages (sorry Mom) when nuns were still smacking you around with rulers. My handful of friends who went to Catholic school have different experiences, most of them not so great. And the youth minister at my church swears up and down her kids will go nowhere near a Seattle-area Catholic high school. SO ENDS MY CATHOLIC SCHOOL KNOWLEDGE. 

But when I think about it, I think it would be SO NICE. Especially in K through 8. I feel that I'm sorely lacking in a Catholic Foundation. I don't know so many of the really basic things you're supposed to know, and I have this idea (incorrect perhaps?) that Catholic school would give my kids what I don't have. I LIKE that there is prayer in school, I like that religious holidays are observed and celebrated, I like the uniforms and school Masses. Our school has very small class sizes and lots of music and art. It's for sure a better education than they'd get in some of the neighborhood schools, but we ARE focusing on neighborhoods with better schools (and the suburbs we're particularly interested in are known for their excellent school district). So I don't know that this is about making sure they get a better education so much as preferring a CATHOLIC education. 

However. EIGHT HUNDRED BUCKS A MONTH DEAR GOD.

And you know, because I've mentioned it nine thousand times, I come from a Proud Family of Public School Teachers. Not that THEY think one is better than the other, they know there are too many factors involved to generalize, I just mention it to show that I'm pretty positive on public schools. 

What if we buy a house with a Just Fine public school two blocks away, but the Catholic school is across town? Or if we stay where we are even, with a great public school, a different parish school five blocks away, and our parish school farther away? Is it bad to say proximity is kind of a big factor with me? It just makes sense somehow, and I'm all about Being Part Of The Neighborhood. What's funny ("funny") is that if we could somehow swing a house near-ish to our parish school, we'll no doubt be spending all our school money on the mortgage. 

I wish I felt strongly one way or the other. Instead, Catholic school just seems really NICE, like a BONUS, but public school would be totally fine too. Phillip is less inclined towards Catholic school, precisely because of the cost, and maybe that makes me a little bit afraid of deciding to insist on Catholic school. 

Maybe it's because neither of us went and we don't exactly have a context for it and we never really thought about paying for it. I know there are ways to make it work. Our priest goes on and on about how they don't turn anyone away and so many people just ASSUME we are sending our kids there. That's what you DO. So maybe I feel a little guilty too. (Well, obviously.)

ANYWAY. A couple of you have emailed/commented with the same sort of dilemma and I honestly don't know what we're going to do. I think on the preschool front we're going to send in the applications and the nonrefundable registration fees and just see what happens. We'll either find a great house and possibly lose our registration fee, or we'll stay and our kids get to go to an awesome preschool. It'll work out either way. But the SCHOOL school issue keeps bugging me, and while I understand I can't really make any decisions yet, I wish I knew what decisions I'd LIKE to make! 

Comments

Marie Green

I think that if a good public school is an option, I would choose that. Mostly because I'd want to save the money for their higher education, like COLLEGE. When you think about how much dough you'll spend on ELEMENTARY SCHOOL... it all adds up, ya know? Of course, I'm not catholic, and as you said these things can't be generalized... Also, there are other ways to give them a Catholic Foundation: I'm sure there's required classes (probably FREE!) before their 1st communion, etc.

In any case, whatever you decide will end up working out great. And proximity is important to me too, I totally get that and I totally would be ITCHING to figure out where we were going to be LIVING. Makes perfect sense.

Good luck!

Megan

Ok, first you shouldn't feel like you have to send them. My husband and I both went to public school k- college and I was a public school teacher before I had kids, so I know a good public education is out there to be had. We do send our kids to Catholic school, however.
One reason is the sense of community. Our school is small (one classroom of each grade) and the kids and parents really get to know each other. I love that we go to Mass on Sunday and the boys see lots of friends from school there. I love that when Will had a few friends from school over for his birthday and we were about to have pizza and it was sort of crazy as only 9 year olds can be, I said " In the name of the Father..." and they all got quiet and jumped right in. I love going to the school carnival and feeling comfortable telling other kids when to take it easy annd knowing that the other parents are looking out for my kids in the same way. I love that when I was in the hospital having Matt Will's class stopped at the same time my c-section was scheduled to say a Hail Mary for me. LOVE.
I also love that they are able to discuss things. I was seated at a dinner with an interesting man who, it turned out, taught ethics at the catholic high school. They were really able to discuss current events in ways that would not have been possible in public school. I was very impressed with this teacher's approach...obviously what the church believes is taught but it sounded like they got into some lively discussions looking at the different sides of issues. I like that they spend time talking about and doing things to help others. Our parish makes lunches for the homeless once a week and the classes take turns to write notes or prayers to go in the lunches.
I like that The boys are so comfortable with religion. I always found church and priests sort of intimidating when I was a kid. My boys do not. I also felt like church and God were things you just thought about on Sunday. From what I can tell, God is just a bigger part of their everyday way to look at the world than it ever was for me.

So far, the money is the only downside. I didn't really think I would end up with three boys when I started, but here I am, 2 there and 1 getting close to preschool. AND, the high school is so much more expensive. Yikes. Another downside could be if your kids need any other services, like speech or special Ed or even GATE. You can still get this through the public schools I think ( you are still paying taxes into the system after all) but it is not really offered at the catholic schools as far as I know.

Sorry I went on so long!
I like the uniforms. So. Easy.

lindsay

YAY! School post!
I did Catholic school K-7(and liked it), then public school, then Catholic college. My elementary school taught the religion well but it was all age appropriate, you could teach your kids that yourself, plus have them in PSR classes.

I feel like I have a 12 year old's understanding of Catholicism and it's frustrating to me. Both I and my college missed out on an opportunity for some faith formation while I was there. Have you considered public school through grade 12 and then maybe a Catholic college?

For us, our kids will only do Catholic school if we hit the jackpot, or if something unforeseen happens in public school, and the money seems less relevant.

We will be giving something up by not putting them in Catholic school, but I think we can make up for a lot of it on the home front.

Good luck in your decision, and you can always change your mind if you don't like how things are going after a couple years, right?

Megan

Oops! I meant to comment on the uniform thing, not just leave it hanging there at the end. I get so used to uniforms that when I see what some girls are wearing these days to school I am shocked (also I am a million years old, apparently). Uniforms are so much easier and less distracting all around.

Megan

Ok, I just reread that and it sounds like I am saying that is the only good choice and I didn't mean to sound like that. I was just trying to share what my experience has been so far and the things I like about it that has made the money output worth it for us.

Also, with the local thing. Most of the kids in our neighborhood go to the local public school of course, and that has come up a few times but we end up knowing many of those kids from baseball and soccer etc so it's not as big a deal as I thought it would be.

SORRY! I'm going to bed now. Sheesh.

el-e-e

The money is So relevant. I remembered, reading your post, that so many Catholic schools in this country are now competing with OTHER private schools funded by lots of rich people, and so to up their academics/sports/etc., the Catholic schools are having to charge an arm and a leg. It kinda goes against the whole idea of a parish school, unfortunately. And it makes the decision so much harder for a lot of people.

I say, oftentimes, that we both work so that we can send our kids to Catholic school. But I'll tell you the truth: my parents are helping us pay for it. We could swing it without them, but I'm VERY grateful. Our school is definitely less expensive than what you quoted - closer to $600/month, not including all the lunches and donations and t-shirts and whatnot. We likely won't be sending our kids to Catholic high school because those costs are outrageous.

But what obviously tips the scale for me is all the stuff that Megan said. The small size. The level of comfort with faith and Church (not that he loves going to Mass, BTW. I get a lot of Sunday complaints lately about how he's already gone ONCE this week in school. Heh.). He's learning the prayers and the sacraments. He's going to grow up seeing these kids not only in school, but on Sundays (and weekends when they all come home from college!) too. They celebrate Christmas and EASTER, not just "Spring."

We're very happy with our decision. I hope yours comes easily. :)

Jessica

I know this isn’t the point of the post, but I’m surprised at how affordable Catholic school is! I always thought it was WAY out there expensive. Like, no way we can afford it expensive. If our daughter was in daycare full time (she goes part-time), we’d be paying $900/month for one child and I somehow assumed Catholic school was just as expensive (or more). Now that I think about it, it makes sense since the school obviously doesn’t have one teacher for every 4 students, like the daycare is required to (for kids under 2). Of course, by “affordable” I mean something our two-income family can afford. If I quit my job (like I want to), we couldn’t afford it.

My husband has always said he wants to send our kids to the local Catholic high school instead of the public (even though we’re not Catholic), because the Catholic school is AWESOME on academics, but I have always had the attitude that sure, we can do that, IF we win the lottery. Maybe it’s not as expensive as we thought. Of course, it could be. I have no idea.

That said, I went to an awesome public school and I think the public schools in our neighborhood are also great (albeit MAYBE not quite as great as the Catholic one), so I’m still all for a public school education and saving the tuition money for college. For MY kids. I obviously know nothing about Seattle schools. Or Catholic school.

Jessica

Eek. I read everyone else’s comments and apparently Catholic high school really IS as expensive as I thought. I guess I’ll put it back in the ‘If we win the lottery’ category.

-R-

1. The daycare where we send my son is more than $800/month FOR ONE CHILD. It is RIDICULOUS.

2. I know people who thrived at Catholic schools and people who didn't. It depends on the school and the kid.

3. We talked about Catholic school, but we live in a good school district, and I feel like B will miss out on the little diversity (racial, religious, and socioeconomic) there is in our suburb if we send him to the local Catholic school (which is all white and, I assume, nearly all Catholic). Plus, the Catholic school is quite a bit farther from our house than the closest elementary school, and I like the idea of B going to the neighborhood school.

4. My SIL lives in a very small town of about 1,000 people. Her 3 boys go to the Catholic school there, and they all love it. But my SIL talks about the "pub kids" (that's what she calls kids who go to the public elementary school) like they're all juvenile delinquents and like all the Catholic school kids are angels. It drives me CRAZY.

5. I realize I am no help.

Kelley

I think you hit the nail on the head...it is a bonus.

Our kids are 15 1/2 months apart and we are planning on a Montessori and Catholic school, the Catholic school is $2500 a year per child but they will charge you $4500 instead of $5000 if you have 2 kids in...our plan. But we have also started a college fund or school fund for them since they were born to help offset the cost. I am a stay at home mom so we cut back in other small ways as well.

Will your church discount if you have 2 kids in school there? (I wasn't sure if you mentioned that.)

Now I am reconsidering Montessori and just doing Christian preschool...it is $2500 a year for TODDLERS vs. $1000 and Montessori til middle school is like $7000 per kid per year!

Melissa T.

We'll have to chat about this when we get together. We have been discussing this, too. Jim went to Catholic school and wants the kids to go to Catholic school. I went to public school and turned out just fine, at least that is my argument. We moved to the LFP because of the school district, so why would we pay for Catholic school? Anyway, we go back and forth. It seems funny to already be worrying about this, but we are. And it's Catholic schools week coming up!

AmyRyb

If it makes you feel any better, I'm currently spending over $800 a month to send ONE kid tot daycare. Imagine my angst over my desire to have another child but knowing that a second round of daycare will be a financial death blow. It stinks. It makes the $3,000/yr cost of private Christian school tuition seem like nothing. My dilemma is whether to send my son to public school or the local Christian (not Catholic) school. I have a friend that teaches there and likes it, so I feel good about that. But the public school is literally around the corner (the other is maybe a 15 minute drive) so it would be insanely more convenient and well, free. But that seems so shallow compared to the prospect of him learning about Jesus at school, singing Christmas carols, praying, and whatever else. I grew up in a Lutheran school and transitioned to public high school with a good foundation under me. Some of my classmates, not so much, so I suppose parenting and other influences contribute as much as anything. I think you need to guide your kids as much as possible either way, and make them want to be good kids when they get older. They can find trouble no matter the school, though I think religiously-based schools tend to be a tad more protection...but if you guide them well enough when they're young, they won't feel the need to rebel by high school. I saw a little of both. I just read a couple more comments above and basically retold -R-'s story, but yeah, you just have to decide what's most important...even if it ends up being that you can handle the religious stuff at home and just go with public school for the rest because it's that good or money's tight or whatever. I don't think there is a wrong answer.

katie

very refreshing dialogue.

i've been in a bit of a funk with the school stuff looming over my head.
my husband and i only know catholic schooling - we are both products of 5k thru college at catholic schools. we both thrived in that environment and truly value what a catholic school offers to its students.

i am newly a full-time sahm, we just bought our first house and my husband has his own house painting business - READ: Jan.-March is SLOW for house painters. Needless to say, funds are quite limited.

fortunately, our parish (which closed its school several years ago) provides partial tuition assistance (regardless of income level) to encourage families to enroll in the area catholic schools. my parents are also devout catholics and have pledged to "help us out" with catholic school tuition, beginning with 1st grade.

that said, catholic schools in our neck of the wood seem to be struggling to stay afloat, combining with other parishes and/or closing their doors. our archdiocese just filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. not sure if we really want to shell out thousands of dollars to a failing institution. perhaps we'd be best off if we packed our bags and moved to Canada.

our public school district is rated highly, but it BIG - large classes, large school community and its just so foreign to us. especially the no daily prayer or moral teachings, let alone integrated learning about our faith and the sacraments. I just don't know if one hour a week in the church basement can make up for the complete absence of religion in the public school setting.

Nevertheless, since the public elementary school is walkable we'll probably send Jo there for 5k. We'll see how that goes before we register at the catholic school.

this weekend we'll be hitting up an open house or two to try to get a sense of the catholic schools in our area.

El-e-e

I will say that overall the diversity is probably more apparent in public schools, but we're pretty lucky to have a big, diverse parish (in a southern suburb, go figure).

Very Bloggy Beth

Ok, let me just start off letting you know, I don't think parochial schools are good for kids. But you do (or kind of do or whatever) and that is TOTALLY cool with me. Also, I live in San Francisco, where you can "go out for burgers" and easily drop a Benjamin Franklin on the table when you leave. Private school here is like...for the rich. Only. My son is just starting preschool, and we totally had to go the co-op route, we had no other choice. I'm paying $3,000 a year for preschool, and I still have to work there once a week, make food for bake sales, bring food for snack time, "donate" items to the school, etc. I'm totally EFFED when it's time for kindergarten, I just hope I can find an acceptable school at this point. Private school is TOTALLY out for us (unless one of us invents something useful) and that's ok for this mama.

sara

I also live in the SF Bay Area, and our daycare/preschool is $2800 per MONTH for two kids. Yes, you read that correctly!! The private schools near us are $28K/year for kindergarten. (insane) So I guess tuition is all relative. We both work at nonprofits, and it's just barely worth it for me to work, financially-speaking. I basically work for the healthcare, since my salary all goes to the daycare/preschool. It's a tough decision for all of us, for sure. So stressful, no?!

sara

Forgot to say....I went to Catholic grade school and LOVED it. I also happened to win the friendship lottery and meet my BFF Princess Nebraska there, so that is probably part of why it was so great ;)

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