Three Christians schools in Washington are bursting with students, and they aren’t the only ones.
Enrollment at Liberty Christian School in Richland has increased by 54% since 2018-19, forcing the school to expand to accommodate demand.
“Every year, it’s a lot of movement and squeezing every inch that we can get out of instruction spaces,” Superintendent Jim Cochran told the Tri-City Herald. “We are blitzed.”
The school is planning a $2.2 million renovation of its cafeteria and multi-purpose room, adding portable classrooms, and upgrading heating and cooling systems to extend the building’s life.
In a national survey, the vast majority of Christian school leaders reported enrollment increases in 2022, with only 10% reporting a decrease. Nearly half (43%) said enrollment increased “substantially.”
Additionally, Christian schools now make up a greater proportion of all private schools than in previous years.
In 2015, 75% of America’s private schools were religious. Just a quarter of America’s private schools were nonsectarian.
But by 2020, 84% of private schools were religious, according to the Noah Webster Educational Foundation.
Those national trends are holding true in Washington, where private school enrollment has increased 25% in the past three years. Homeschooling also rose in popularity.
While Liberty Christian is preparing to host more students, several of its neighbors are doing the same.
Tri-Cities Prep Catholic High Schools in Pasco is hoping to add 83,000 square feet to its current facilities in the coming years, reported the Tri-City Herald.
And Calvary Christian School in Kennewick is expanding its academic program to include 11th and 12th grade, as well as building a new sports field.
While the pandemic played a large role in families rethinking education, Cochran believes there’s more to it.
“There’s been wave after wave of variables that have brought people to us,” he said. “I think people are looking around and saying, ‘What do we want for our kids.’”