SLO County private schools see increased interest during pandemic

Posted at 9:14 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 19:12:34-05

Most San Luis Obispo County private schools have been open for in-person learning since the fall, bringing an influx of interest from those wanting their kids in a classroom instead of virtual learning. KSBY spoke with a few private schools to see what their plans are moving forward.

“The interest is probably 10 times more at this point than it usually is this time of year,” said Ken Hutchinson, the principal and administrator for North County Christian School in Atascadero.

But does the supply equal the demand?

“What will that translate into? We don’t know for sure, especially since we don’t know what’s going to happen next fall, and that may change people’s mind on where they’re at now and where they’re at then,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson says they plan to expand in the coming year. Currently, NCCS has about 60 students enrolled between elementary school and middle school. If the interest remains steady through the spring, they’ll consider nearly doubling the enrollment to 120.

“We’ve had new families ask us, ‘What time in the morning on March 1st can we turn in our applications?' That just shows you how anxious people are to grab a spot,” said Hutchinson.

The principal for NCCS says he doesn’t think the interest in his school is artificial.

“I’m not fearful that people will make a commitment, and then in large numbers change their mind. I’m comfortable with how our system works here and what people say to us,” said Hutchinson. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

At Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, the interest has significantly increased.

“I would say that the pandemic has definitely changed the interest level, just being able to have kids on campus; it becomes an additional appeal to parents,” said Mike Susank, principal at Mission Prep.

The more than 100-year-old Catholic school plans to increase enrollment by about 4% this coming year, but that was in the works before people started calling about openings because of the current state of education.

“We believe in a small community,” said Susank. “We’re pursuing about 300 students for now; about 75-80 students per class. The goal is for every student to be known. We’ll grow as the demand for this experience does grow, but we also think it’s vital to keep that family feel.”

After speaking with several other private schools in San Luis Obispo County, most plan to keep similar models for the next school year.