Demographer corrects findings

Normally, it isn’t a good idea to work off stereotypes and preconceptions.

Sometimes, they are right.

Last week, officials with the Jefferson City School District, the City Council and Cole County reviewed the findings of a study by demographer Preston Smith of Business Information Services.

While most of the information raised little concern last Friday, the portion of Smith’s presentation discussing the breakdown of Catholic and Protestant students at area parochial schools raised a few eyebrows.

Across the board, Smith reported, there were more Protestant than Catholic students, by a significant margin, at every single Catholic school in the area.

At the time, officials like Cole County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger questioned those findings, indicating his firsthand knowledge contradicted the study’s findings.

This week, Smith released new numbers and information that more closely matched the thoughts Ellinger and others expressed.

For example, the original study found there were more than 400 Protestant students at Helias Catholic High School, while showing only 105 confirmed Catholic students and 63 unknown students.

With new figures provided by Helias and the Jefferson City Diocese, Smith corrected the study to show there are 712 Catholic students and 84 “other Christians” at Helias.

Likewise, Smith’s original study said only five of the 70 students last year at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic School were Catholic. His corrected study, after speaking with school officials, reports only two of the students were Protestant.

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