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The median salary for lay teachers in Catholic high schools has increased 12 percent in the past two years, but their compensation remains far below that of their public-school counterparts, according to a new survey.

The median salary for schools surveyed by the National Catholic Educational Association was $22,100 in the 1989-90 school year, up from the $19,700 median in 1987-88. At public high schools, the median salary went from $28,700 to $31,300 during the same period, according to National Education Association figures cited in the report.

The new report, "Catholic High Schools and Their Finances 1990," is based on a random sample of 222 Catholic secondary schools across the nation.

The average beginning salary at Catholic high schools increased from $14,500 in 1987-88 to $16,200, also a 12 percent jump, compared with a 10 percent increase at public high schools, where the beginning salary went from $18,600 to $20,500, according to the American Federation of Teachers.

The survey found that Catholic teachers with bargaining representation were paid a median salary of $24,000, compared with the median of $21,300 for those without any form of union representation.

The average annual salary for lay principals in 1990 was $41,300, up 10 percent over two years ago.

The average freshman tuition at Catholic high schools has increased 18 percent in the past two years, from $1,938 to $2,299, the survey found.

But the average financial-aid grant has increased 24 percent in the past two years, from $709 to $880, according to the report.

More Catholic high schools are increasing their development efforts to obtain outside funds, and 84 percent of schools now have a development office, the report says.

The average Catholic high school now raises about $150,000 each year from alumni and parent contributions and business and community giving.

Single copies of the report are available free from the National Catholic Educational Association, 1077 30th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007; telephone (202) 337-6232.

Two independent day schools on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City have announced plans to merge by next September.

The Birch Wathen School, founded in 1921, and the Lenox School, founded in 1916, will consolidate to strengthen their finances and enrollment, their boards announced Nov. 15.

The new institution will be known as the Birch Wathen Lenox School, with the lower and middle grades to be housed in the Birch Wathen facilities and the upper grades in the Lenox facilities. The combined enrollment will be about 500.--mw

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