I talked to the school again, this time to the assistant principle. She told me yes, the 'volunteer' hours are mandatory and must be completed in the building BUT they have been known to work out special arrangements where families with a deployed parent can do a few hours here and there at home but only while the other parent is deployed. I guess that's something although it doesn't help all that much. I'll probably try to get big chunks of it done at home while DH is deployed.
The church does tithe but only 1/4 or so of their congregation are full fledged tithing parishioners. Others can certainly attend but have to pay for activities (like retreats) that are free to those who tithe. She said the school used to be free to tithing families but then word got around about it. Several large families moved to be near the school and enrolled all their children while paying a tithe on their low income. The school couldn't make ends meet. It sounds like a wonderful system in theory to me but I can understand why having families with 10 kids enrolled for their parent's $2500 tithe is not sustainable. The school had to go back to a tuition per child setup.
The interesting thing is that since the tithe is no longer accepted in lieu of tuition they now count tuition towards the tithe so if we wanted to we could be 'full parishioners' since the tuition is more than 10% of our income.
We're going to go with this school. I guess our only other options are continuing to homeschool or using the horrible public schools there. There is no bus for this school so I'll have to do the drop offs and pick ups but I can live with it.