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Nearly one-quarter of the Roman Catholic elementary schools in the United States have established endowments or development funds to help ensure more stable financing, according to a survey by the National Catholic Educational Association.

The endowment funds are a new development for Catholic elementary schools, even though they have been widely used for years by colleges and universities and have been growing in use by Catholic high schools, according to the report, "United States Catholic Elementary Schools and Their Finances, 1989."

The report, based on a survey of 907 Catholic elementary schools nationwide, shows that about 23 percent of the schools have set up endowment funds. Nearly half of the schools in the sample have been relying on their endowment funds to generate at least 19 percent of school revenue.

Ncea officials have praised the trend as a sign of better long-range planning for elementary schools.

The survey also found that the average tuition at Catholic elementary schools during the 1988-89 school year was $924, up from $523 in 1986-87.

The ncea compares its average per-pupil cost of $1,476 with corresponding figures for public-school students to suggest that Catholic schools are better administered and can do more with less funding. Public schools spent an average of $4,719 per pupil in 1988-89, according to a U.S. Education Department estimate.

Among other survey findings were that the average annual salary for lay principals of Catholic elementary schools in 1988-89 was $37,437, and that the median salary for lay teachers was $19,740.

In addition, the survey reports that a growing number of Catholic elementary schools are offering pre-kindergarten and extended-day programs to respond to the needs of families with two working parents.

Thirty-one percent of schools in the survey offered prekindergarten programs, and 30 percent offered extended-day programs. Average prekindergarten tuition was $950.

Copies of the report are available for $9 each from ncea Publication Sales, 1077 30th St. N.W., Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20007. Phone: (202) 337-6232.

John C. Esty Jr., the president of the National Association of Independent Schools since 1978, has announced that he intends to step down at the end of July 1991.

Mr. Esty recently told the nais board of directors that he plans a five-month writing project upon his retirement, then he will "search for new ways to contribute to independent education."

The nais board has established a search committee for his successor.


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