The following comes from a March 28 Sonoma News article by Robert Digitale:

School choice and financial recessions are cited as reasons for the sharp decline in enrollments among Sonoma County religious schools in the 21st Century.

Catholic schools have seen enrollments decline 28 percent this year from the 1999-2000 academic year, according to data from the California Department of Education. Total enrollment this year is 2,144 students.

Other religious schools, nearly all Protestant, experienced an even bigger drop, declining 62 percent in the same period. Those schools this year have a total enrollment of 1,203 students.

Santa Rosa Catholic Bishop Robert Vasa also cited the large increase in charter schools as a reason for the decline in religious school enrollments. He also said that the large majority of children in Catholic parishes today are Latino and their parents often lack the financial means to pay for private schools.

“If I had 1,000 scholarships available,” Vasa said, “I would have 1,000 Latino students” joining parish schools.